Why are diseases such as Diabetes, heart disease, and obesity at all time highs in our country? Why is the diet industry a multi million (probably billion dollar industry) and why do people struggle so much to lose and maintain weight?
Is it diet? Yes- I believe we as a population and culture eat too much food, especially poor quality food.
But more than that I believe, and the research has shown that people SIT way too much, and this amount of sitting is contributing to an epidemic of poor health in our country.
Here is a great article for you to read (and the one I based today’s blog on:
Here is a typical day for many people:
Get ready for the day.
Drive to work (sitting).
Spend 8 + hours at work , mostly sitting, very little movement.
Sit while watching TV or talking on the phone, or sit at a restaurant for food, or go for a drink with a friend.
If you are part of the 2 % of our population that exercises daily, then maybe at some point in there you spend roughly 60 minutes exercising.
Most of the day is spent in a flexed body position, requiring virtually no use of the heart, lungs, and muscles.
What do they show sitting all day leads to?
– Raises your risk of: heart attacks, strokes, type 2 Diabetes, cancer, premature death and obesity (and that’s not even mentioning all the anatomical issues that arise from your body barely moving all day).
Did you fully read and comprehend that line?
It has been proven and shown in research that sitting all day at work is putting you at a much higher risk for the major causes of death and disease in our country. This data was first recognized in the 1940’s when a study was done on bus drivers vs. ticket takers on the bus in London. They found that the drivers who sat all day had much higher risk of disease then the ticket takers who stood and move around. This data has been around for a long time- and it’s time to take action!
It’s quite scary.
So What do We Need to Do?
- Some research has shown that 60-75 minutes of daily medium to intense activity such as brisk walking or cycling can offset some of the effect of sitting for 8 hours a day. This tells us that hitting the gym daily is going to support our health in some way, but on top of that the key factor is finding ways to break up your sitting time with movement. If you exercise every morning and then sit for 8 + hours your benefits dwindle as the day goes on (especially if you are sitting in bad posture). In my lunch and learns I recommend setting an alarm and moving around every 30 minutes. This could be anything! Walk to the photocopier, walk a flight or two of stairs, do 10 squats into your chair. You’ve got to move.
- Perhaps an easier solution for us might be to focus on our more controllable time. Perhaps you are a busy working professional who works 8 hours a day and each day is jam packed, hard for you to think about getting more movement in. I understand. So why not focus on moving on your free time? Challenge yourself to not sit on the couch when you get home. Instead focus on the laundry, dishes, cooking cleaning, getting a night time walk in, or turning on a yoga video. The average North American watches 3 hours of TV a day. My suggestion: cut down that TV time, or if you are completely addicted and can’t give it up then how can you MOVE while you watch TV?
Remember last week in the blog I mentioned that the recommendations set out by Canada’s physical activity guidelines were kind of shitty in terms of what I would recommend for weight loss/maintenance (instead of 150 minutes a week I think people need 60 minutes a day minimum). Well- this research on sitting agrees with that statement!
What the recommendation for North Americans is based on what actually works to prevent disease and maintain a healthy body weight:
We need to exercise 60-75 minutes a day (moderate or intense) and MOVE MORE/SIT LESS.
What the average North American does on an a typical day:
½ of the population in North America doesn’t even meet the 150 minute a week mark for activity, and sits to watch TV for 3 -8 hours a day!
How Moving More Has Helped Me Maintain My Weight
If your own health isn’t enough motivation, then let’s talk body weight. I used to count calories, eat my best, and struggle to maintain my body weight. I would exercise as close to 5 days a week as I could, I would try to walk to work, but something didn’t add up- I still wasn’t happy with my weight. Over the past 1-2 years I have noticed a shift. I am able to eat more good food, also enjoy more indulgences, yet at the same time I am slimmer and leaner, what’s the deal? Yes- I am exercising more consistently. To be honest I exercise 6-7 days a week. This is everything from bike rides to long power walks to yoga to strength training to dance classes. I don’t usually miss a day unless I am incredibly sore or exhausted. But on top of that what I think has attributed more to my ability to maintain a lower body weight is moving more. In general I walk or bike to work, I move around all day with clients, I walk to get my groceries, etc. Sure, I sit, like when I am doing my homework, typing this blog, answering e-mails, or eating food, but it adds up to just a few hours a day compared to 8 when I used to work a desk job. So the moral of the story is- if you are struggling to lose or maintain your weight move more, as much as possible, every day of the week.
My message: For most of us, maintaining our weight, or losing weight is freaking hard! If it was easy we would all be of a healthy body weight and lower body fat. You’ve got to start moving more, for life :). If you have always struggled with your weight, or never been able to maintain a low body weight it’s time to create a life based around movement of your body.
On top of that- if you sit for 8 hours a day you have to do EVEN MORE on your own free time to counteract for the lack of movement all day. It’s hard!
What To Do (ideas):
Here are some ideas I have for you to move more throughout the day. I would love, if you have other ideas you do regularly if you could post them in the comments below for the other readers.
- Walk or cycle to work (this is my favourite idea, it’s so practical and simple, you don’t have to go anywhere or do anything out of your way).
- Every time your phone rings, stand up.
- Set a timer every 30 minutes to remind you to stand, do a stretch, do an exercise, move your body.
- Never take an elevator or escalator again, if you can avoid it.
- Walk to the grocery store.
- Save TV for a special occasion.
- Actually take a lunch break and go for a walk.
- Get in your daily exercise (60-75 minutes).
- Record how much TV/sitting you actually do, then try and minimize it.
- Organize a stretch or movement break in your office in the morning and afternoon.
- Get a sit/stand desk
- If you are tired after work it’s because your body has gone to sleep during the day! It doesn’t need more sitting around it needs movement. Get to a dance class, or go for walk. I will 100% guarantee you will not feel more tired after.
- Cultivate a life around activity. Instead of always having dinner/drinks with friends, could you do a hike and a tea? Instead of making every date night about dinner and a movie, what about strolling the seawall, doing something new like rock climbing, or taking a yoga class together. Get creative.
KELLY STARRETT said in the article “If you walk into any office and look at the behaviours of people sitting, they default to a position that would make your grandmother sick,” says Mr Starrett. “The human body was not meant to be a couch potato.”
Kelly has a book out called Deskbound, which I haven’t read yet, but based on reading all his other books I am sure you would love. I will be ordering mine soon. In the meantime, you can get a good kick out of his quote, and take it was a reminder to sit up tall and straight, and to move less.
A Side Note:
Taking our health seriously.
It’s funny how sometimes we can know something in the back of our mind, yet we sneakily ignore it so that we can justify our actions. Let me give you an example. I LOVE peanut butter. The moment I open my eyes in the morning I am thinking about it. People bring me peanut butter as gifts to the gym regularly, and I got 2 giant jars of peanut butter for my birthday this year. I have been known to devour it by the multiple spoonful. One thing I have always known about peanut butter is that it contains something called aflatoxins which have been shown in research to be cancerous to humans. I have known this for years and yet I continued to consume it by the spoonful. Today, while listening to a podcast totally unrelated to health, the author reminded me of these toxins in peanut butter and their relevance to cancer. I had a light bulb moment. I asked myself- if you care so much about your health, how are you still eating peanut butter everyday!? And I realized, I was hiding the fact that I knew it wasn’t the best for me, to justify my addiction 🙂 So from now on- sure I will eat a bit of peanut butter, maybe a few times a week, but it’s time to find a new breakfast.
My message? What facts are you hiding down so that you can justify your current actions? What are you justifying so that you don’t have to take better care of your health? Why aren’t you connecting the dots between how much we need to move our body and exercise to your own health and well being.
As always, I hope some of this helps you out.