How Sitting is Killing You — and How to Stand Up to Your Chair (Part 4)

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Stand up!

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How to Stand Up to Your Chair

I spent the last three posts writing about all the horrible things that can happen to you from living a sedentary lifestyle. I did this, not to rattle off diseases to show how smart I am, but to give you some perspective. We as human beings spend so much time trying to make money, and then trying to completely check out from it all– that it’s hurting our health! Our bodies need our attention. We need to spend some time nurturing ourselves. Do you know the incredible thing about all of the diseases I mentioned in the previous posts? They are all preventable. While genetics plays a role in our health risks, our lifestyle is the greatest contributor. And when spending just a little time each day to take care of our bodies has such a huge impact on preventing disease and the rewards are monumental, why not do it? So what can we do?

Move more! – Find any excuse to move more. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park far away from your building to force yourself to walk, walk a few blocks instead of taking the subway, get up and walk to your coworker’s office for a face-to-face talk instead of e-mailing them from a few rooms away.

Active Meditation – As mentioned in a previous post, meditation isn’t just sitting around saying OM! Meditation is a way to focus your mind on a single task, including your work. If you find that you’re having trouble keeping focused, or reach a roadblock in your work, get up and walk around your building. Or if you have a task that requires you to reflect, analyze, or evaluate something, do it while on the move. The increased blood flow to your brain will help you think more clearly, and may help inspire you. Also, taking a break from your computer can help you focus more clearly.

Exercise – As a trainer, exercise can mean anything from getting up and down from a chair, to full-out sprinting. We always tend to overthink things and come up with excuses for why we can’t exercise. Exercise means I have to get sweaty, so then I’ll have to change my clothes, and then I’ll need a shower, and I don’t have the time to do something like that. Not true. Exercise is simply taking some time out to move. Here are some ways to get your exercise in without going crazy:

Mini-circuits—All it takes is 5 minutes. Pick 5 bodyweight exercises, do each one for a minute. You choose the intensity. Squats, pushups, jumping jacks, lunges, planks. You don’t have to do them fast. You don’t have to make them as hard as possible. If you can find 5 gaps of 5 minutes throughout your day, you can have a total of 25 minutes of exercise that day. Go you!

Commercial Break Circuits—As mentioned above, all you need is 5 minutes. I’m not telling you to watch TV, but if you happen to be doing so, get up every commercial break and do something. Do that 5 minute circuit, get up and do some dishes, vacuum the floor, do a set of jumping jacks, do a few yoga poses. In an hour of TV time, you could potentially get close to 15 minutes of exercise.

Lunch and Dinner Time Walks – If you get an hour lunch break and it takes you 5 minutes to eat your lunch, what are you doing with the rest of that time? When you’re done with dinner, what do you usually do? Sit down and watch TV and start looking for late night snacks? Curb your snacking and take some time to relax by taking a leisurely walk around your block or your building. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 150 minutes a week, or 30 minutes a day of low-to-moderate intensity physical activity for reducing your chances of getting a preventable disease. If you take one 10 minute walk each day, you’re already looking at cutting the time you need to exercise down to 80 more minutes a week. Give yourself 3 – 10 minute bouts of exercise or walking each day, and you’re well on your way to a healthy lifestyle.

Stretch– All that extra moving still stressing you out? Just get up and stretch. Bend down to touch your toes. Find a doorway to stretch out your chest and upper back. Grab your foot and stretch out your hips. It might take a minute of your time to do all three, and you’ll thank yourself for taking the time.

Get your chores done—NEAT—As discussed in a previous post, Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis can greatly increase your daily energy expenditure. Most of things listed above count as NEAT (walking to your car, taking the stairs). But you can also improve your health just by doing the things you need to do. Wash your dishes, wash the car, mow the lawn, do some vacuuming, clean the windows, clean your bathroom, do your laundry (if you do it by hand it will burn more calories…just saying), change a light bulb. These things get you exhausted by the end because they’re hard! They all use a lot of energy, and they all help keep you healthy. Find a way to keep yourself moving, and you’ll reap the benefits.

The point is get up from that chair. You can do anything you want, just get up. Your body will thank you.

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