Designed to Move

The human body contains over 650 skeletal muscles.1 Skeletal muscle causes our body, or parts of our body, to move. It was God’s design that we are active. In speaking of man’s creation, Genesis 2:7 tells us, “The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” In this passage, the Hebrew word for living is “chay,” meaning living, lively, and active.2

How active are we? Adults ages 20 to 75 report spending an average of 9.5 hours sedentary every day. Most of this time happens at work and during downtime.A large percentage (82%) of downtime is spent sitting and watching screens (e.g., television, phones, computers). This lack of movement contributes to chronic pain and obesity, increasing our risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.As we increase our total sitting time each day, our risk of early death also increases.5 The negative consequences of being sedentary are so high that we now call it “sitting disease.”

In 2018, the Physical Activity Guidelines Committee published updated physical activity guidelines.In addition to engaging in 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity (or 75–150 minutes of vigorous-intensity) aerobic physical activity per week and strength training exercises for all major muscle groups two or more days per week, the current recommendation is that “inactivity should be avoided.”

So how do we avoid inactivity and prevent the negative consequences of sitting disease?

  • Avoid sitting disease. Don’t sit for more than one hour without moving. Ask yourself, which parts of my body haven’t been moved in a while? Then take a 60-second break to move those muscles. March in place, do a few laps around the house, try a few overhead stretches, or climb a flight of stairs.
  • Sit actively. Use a stability ball or modified chair designed to allow your body to stay dynamic while seated. Scoot forward to use more of your torso instead of leaning back in the chair. Try perching, a position halfway between sitting and standing.
  • Think actively: Try to stand and move as much as possible. Park your car farther away, use the stairs, take more trips, never talk on the phone sitting down, use a standing desk, and intersperse stretches. Whenever possible, try not to motor your way through life. Use a broom or rake instead of a leaf blower, wash dishes by hand instead of loading them in the dishwasher, and take the stairs instead of the elevator. Do your daily tasks more energetically—walk briskly, vacuum faster, and take multiple trips up or down stairs instead of consolidating.
  • Convert downtime to active time. Add fun leisure-time activities to your week that will get you moving, like playing with the kids, tending a garden, creating a new dish in the kitchen, taking a walk at a nearby park, or exploring a new part of your community. While watching TV, use every commercial as a cue to get up and move.
  • Practice “Active Acts of Kindness.” Motivate yourself to move by doing something for someone else. Hold open a door for someone, return a stranger’s shopping cart to the store, pick up litter, give someone your seat on the bus, or walk a neighbor’s dog.
  • Monitor your movement. Use a step counter to track your daily steps and a phone app or alarm to remind you to move. Set a goal and log your progress.

Excessive sitting is not good for the body. Each of your 650+ muscles needs movement. Challenge yourself to move more throughout the day—as God designed.

Ultreia et suseia! (Onwards and upwards!)

Lilly Tryon, DNP

  1. What is the strongest muscle in the human body? The Library of Congress. (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2023, from
  2. H2416 – ḥay – Strong’s Hebrew lexicon (KJV). Blue Letter Bible. (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2023, from
  3. Matthews, C. E., Carlson, S. A., Saint-Maurice, P. F., Patel, S., Salerno, E. A., Loftfield, E., Troiano, R. P., Fulton, J. E., Sampson, J. N., Tribby, C., Keadle, S. K., & Berrigan, D. (2021). Sedentary behavior in U.S. adults: Fall 2019. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise53(12), 2512–2519.
  4. Biswas, A., Oh, P. I., Faulkner, G. E., Bajaj, R. R., Silver, M. A., Mitchell, M. S., & Alter, D. A. (2015). Sedentary time and its association with risk for disease incidence, mortality, and hospitalization in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine162(2), 123–132.
  5. Diaz, K. M., Howard, V. J., Hutto, B., Colabianchi, N., Vena, J. E., Safford, M. M., Blair, S. N., & Hooker, S. P. (2017). Patterns of Sedentary Behavior and Mortality in U.S. Middle-Aged and Older Adults: A National Cohort Study. Annals of internal medicine167(7), 465–475.
  6. Piercy, K. L., Troiano, R. P., Ballard, R. M., Carlson, S. A., Fulton, J. E., Galuska, D. A., George, S. M., & Olson, R. D. (2018). The physical activity guidelines for Americans. JAMA, 320(19), 2020.


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