Thursday, December 26, 2013

Sitting is the New Smoking

We all know that physical activity is good and being a slug is not so good. In fact, physical inactivity is a risk factor for various non-communicable diseases including ischemic heart disease, breast and colorectal cancers and diabetes. In addition to being a risk factor to many things that will eventually kill us, physical inactivity also makes us weaker so when we do perform activities(like shoveling snow) we're at higher risk of getting injured. This is nothing new. Public health workers have been trying for years to instill upon people the need to stay active. The American Heart Association recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise(or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise) per week. And yet people are still dying prematurely.

While some of it is an individual's choice, society has also made a sedentary lifestyle more common. Over the years, it has become easier and easier to sit more and more. Television, longer commutes, more sedentary workplaces, elevators, NetFlix, the list goes on and on. For some people there is a good possibility of sitting for up to 23 hours a day! That's crazy. It appears that the amount of time you sit during the day plays a huge role in your overall health.  Studies have shown that you can exercise after work but if you sit throughout the day, you may still be at a higher risk of early mortality! So much so that it's on par with smoking in risk of early mortality. This is in addition to all of the repetitive chronic use injuries that are associated with sitting(carpal tunnel, shoulder impingement, neck and lower back pain etc).

NOW WAIT! Let me clarify: people who didn't exercise AND sat all day were by far the sickest and most disabled population. People who exercised and sat all day were far better off than this population in regards to disability and early death but still lagged(in terms of health) behind people who did not sit much, if at all, throughout the day.

So if you have a job that allows you to stand for at least 75% of your day, you are probably okay will the AHA exercise recommendations(assuming you don't smoke, you eat well and you sleep enough). BUT if you sit the majority of the day, it time to stand up! No seriously, right now.

While Amber and I do a fair amount of promoting a healthy lifestyle during your leisure hours by pretending ridiculously hard endurance activities are fun, today we will demonstrate ways to be more activity and healthy while at work. Below are some activities that you can do at your desk:

Quad stretch

Adductor Stretch

Hamstring stretch(yes, that is a stretch for me)

Hip flexor stretch

Biceps, pec and scalene stretch

Upper Trap Stretch

Piriformis stretch squat

One Legged Deadlift


Scap depression(try to get your squeezed shoulders as far away from your ears as possible)

Variation of one legged deadlift(front knee is bent)

Single Leg stance(great for balance!- Make sure you're not relying on your hands for balance)
The above activities are all fairly easy to do and will get you out of your chair for a while. Try to hold each pose for 5 minutes on each side. By the time you go through the whole routine, that will be two less hours that you just sat! If you've got a private office, you could always throw in a couple pushups, burpees or jogging in place between each activity. Make it a game to see just how little you can sit in your work-day. Good luck!

Quick Note:
Sorry to all the cab drivers and toilet bowl testers out there, since this only applies to people who are at a workstation where they have the opportunity to stand. If you're a cabbie, make sure to be chivalrous and run to open the door for your riders. If you're a toilet bowl tester, good luck.

Up Next? Amber's return to snowshoe racing. Can she regain the Snowshoe National Championship title?


  1. Nice job abusing MY work station. I hope you had management approval for taking pictures in that spot, I would hate to see you fired (Amber, if you get fired can I get your desk???):))))

  2. Sebi! Do you know how I know that it was your work station? Because the desk was nearly rusted in the seat position and there were butt grooves on the seat! Get on your feet!