This weekend I attended an American College Sports Medicine (ACSM) certified personal trainer workshop for three days in Aurora, Illinois. (Wow! That’s a mouthful.) It was an outstanding workshop about fitness and personal training. I enjoyed reviewing and updating my knowledge on the principles and prescriptions related to exercise.
The only part of the workshop I didn’t enjoy – was the sitting for eight hours everyday. (This doesn’t include the sitting time in my car for 3 hours each day, as I traveled back and forth.) Honestly, I haven’t sat so much since…I don’t know when. On the second day, my back and neck hurt and my shoulders and hips felt cranky and tight. By day three, I was pretty much in agony. Feeling like a kid, I was constantly fidgeting in my chair, trying to get comfortable. I skipped a balanced lunch on two days, just to go walk and get the kinks out.
At some point, I apologized to my neighbor attendee for my excess squirmy movements. A fit fellow who does triathlons, he empathized and mentioned an article he recently read in Runners world entitled – Sitting is the new smoking – even for runners.
Acording to the article, no matter how fit you are, the more you sit – the earlier you may die. YIKES! Just like smoking is bad for you even if you exercise, so is sitting. Exercise does not cancel out the effects of sitting too much! Whaaat?
In fact, research from the ACSM reports some people are 30% less active on days they exercise, so…maybe they sit more. Not good, because when the body sits for an extended period of time, it shuts down at the metabolic level. This means circulation slows and you use less blood sugar and burn less fat, which increases the risk for heart disease and diabetes. The American Institute for Cancer Research is beginning to consider “sitting time” a cancer risk factor, yes, an actual health hazard. Large muscle groups in the legs and butt are not engaged when sitting which means important circulation is not taking place.
When so many of life’s daily activities include sitting – work (if done at a desk), reading books, watching movies, eating, studying, computer use, the list goes on, what can be done to intervene?
The President’s Council on fitness, Sports and Nutrition recommends interrupting sedentary time. Take a walking or a standing break throughout each sedentary hour. Use height adjustable desks to stand more while working. Multi – task exercise with TV watching or computer use – take frequent stretch breaks or complete simple strength training exercises. Use a pedometer to make sure you walk more throughout the day -remember 10,000 steps is a daily recommendation for health. Set a timer when sitting so that one hour doesn’t mysteriously turn into three without notice. Put on some music and…dance, in your kitchen, in your cubicle, wherever…for 5 minutes. (That last tip was mine because I think silly dancing is like a happy pill!)
What can you do if you work at a place that requires you to sit and you want to effect change? My attendee friend gave me another tip – click on the graphic below to link to a company that is revolutionizing desks. He was able to get treadmill desks in his office because it may be illegal in the future for companies to require employees to sit for extended periods of time.
Just like smoking was eventually banned from the workplace, it looks like sitting may be next.