To sit, or not to sit…

I’m going to continue on with the topic of sedentary time (aka sitting all day).  There’s a lot of information out there (some of which I provided in the last post…so check that one out if you haven’t) about how sitting is bad for your health. The American College of Sports Medicine (of which I’m a practicing member) highlighted an observational study done by Dr. Joesph Henson that links increased sedentary time with increased levels of fat around the heart, liver and viscera (other organs).

But, it has also been well established (here’s one source) that prolonged standing (standing for more than 30 minutes) can also have negative health effects such as ankle swelling, lower back pain, leg cramps, and overall fatigue.

I know, I know… it’s all so confusing!

First, they tell us that standing is the new smoking… leading to premature death and a whole slew of health problems. Then others say, but wait standing has it’s problems too!

What’s a girl to do?

Here’s where one of my favorite cliches comes into play…

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Should we sit over 70% of our days… no! Should be stand the entire day… probably not! But somewhere in between should be our goal! Life is about balance. And from what I can glean from the research, I’d say that taking a short break once every 30 minutes or so is a good way to stay balanced.

How do you stay active at work? 

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Stand & Stay Healthy: My DIY Standing Desk

Yesterday NPR released THIS ARTICLE about how sitting at desks (aka sedentary lives) are “killing us,” and how moving can stop the death march.

While I think it’s a little overly dramatic, research has proven that the average American lifestyle includes about 15 hours work of sedentary time (including sleeping). On the bright side, research has also found that taking small breaks from sitting (no matter how long the break) is associated with lower waist circumference (how round you are), triglycerides (how much fat is in your blood stream) and and blood glucose (how much sugar is in your blood stream) levels.

However, as the NPR article points out…no one is really shouting from the mountain tops how long breaks should be or what the best practices are for getting in more active time.

The not-so-popular truth is we as individuals need to start taking responsibility for our health and realizing that it took a long time to build our bad habits… so it may take awhile and some serious effort to break them.

Weight loss and health doesn’t come from 1 hour at the gym after a 1 hour commute (where we sit), a desk job (where we sit), and another 1 hour commute home (while we, yes, sit). It takes some creativity! Some ingenuity! And, gasp… some forethought!

So, not that it’s any sort of a best practice, but here is how I keep active.

1.) I built myself a standing desk. I literally googled DIY Standing Desk… It cost $22 🙂

Standing Desk

It’s not an fancy-schmancy automatic one, so it takes a little effort to set it up. But, I usually set it up after lunch and stand for the rest of my afternoon.

2.) I park my car about 10 minutes away from the door to my office… on purpose.

3.) I drink a lot of water. It’s a win-win situation… I’m properly hydrated AND the bathroom is about a 2 minute walk out of my office.

4.) I schedule my exercise, I make it social, and I do things that I enjoy! My calendar lis filled with appointments for after work run clubs, biking meet ups, and occasional lunch breaks where I leave the office to go swim some laps. I enjoy meeting up with people to play volleyball, go hiking, or go explore a new part of town. I decided a long time ago that if I didn’t choose activities that I enjoyed doing, I’d never do them. 

5.) I hang out with other active people. Now, I realize you can’t just easily change your friend group and you definitely can’t change your family. But, research also suggests that the old phrase, birds of a feather flock together, is very true. Want to be more active? Find people who want that for themselves too!

6.) I stand whenever possible. Out with friends at a bar?… No stool for me thanks. Riding the subway or bus? You can have this seat Ms. Parks. Bout to board a plane? I’m the last person on and I circle the terminal during layovers.

7.) I protect my sleep! How does that help being active you ask? Well, if you’re not getting adequate or restful sleep, you’re not going to want to be active the next day! I spray my sheets with relaxing lavender linen spray and/or I diffuse some relaxing scents in my bedroom before bed.

I LOVE SLEEP! 

Linen Spray

What do you do to stay active?