Are you anchored to a desk job for most of the day? Is exercise the last thing on your mind when you come home after a long day of work?
Prolonged sitting is one of the worst things you can do to your body, after smoking and alcohol bingeing. Yes, it is that serious. According to a growing body of scientific research, the more time you spend sitting, the higher your risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and even premature death, regardless of how much time you spend working out.
Learn more about the sitting disease and how you can prevent it with the Locus Workstation.
Did you get that last part? It basically says that you can’t sit all day and expect to make up for it by exercising. Once the damage is done, it is done. While the mechanisms are not clear, there is an observed association between prolonged sitting and increased markers for cardiovascular disease, such as body mass index, waist circumference, triglycerides, fasting blood glucose, insulin levels and blood pressure. One working theory is that resting muscle (which is what happens with prolonged sitting) seems to inactivate production of lipoprotein lipase (LPL), a molecule involved in fat metabolism. A reduction in LPL greatly increases triglycerides (circulating fatty acids) and lowers “good” cholesterol.
There really isn’t much to it — the bottom line is to do your best to keep moving, FREQUENTLY throughout the day.
Here’s what you can do to spread your exercise over the course of your work day, which can even be more effective than doing an hour exercise at the end of the day:
1. Get a standing desk. Not only does standing burn more calories than sitting, it is actually better for your back. When you stand, it puts your lumbar (lower spine) into a natural arc which strengthens the supportive capacity of your lower back (this is the reason why long bridges are not straight but have a slight arc to them). When you sit, the lumbar spine bows the opposite direction, weakening its ability to support the torso weight and placing excessive pressure on your discs, especially L4/5 and L5/S1 discs.
2. Park a block away from your building and speed walk to your office (wear sneakers to work, keep your formal shoes under your desk). Carry 5# dumbbells and pump your arms with them as you speed walk.
3. Take the stairs. If you work in a high rise, skip the elevator and take the stairs. If your office is on the second floor, do ten repetitions of going up and down the stairs before you enter your office; if you are on the 25th floor (you get the point) take the elevator to the 10th floor and take the stairwell the rest of the way.
4. Every 20 minutes, stand up from your office chair and do some stretches, run in place briefly, do some leg squats– anything to move your body for just a few minutes.
5. On your lunch break, do a quick workout: run in place for 2 minutes, do 20 pushups, 20 squats, 20 lunges and 20 crunches. Get a yoga mat for this; keep it in your office. Wipe off with a wet face towel (keep a bunch in your office).
6. If there is any lifting needed in your office (supply runs, mail room) volunteer to help out for a minute or two throughout the day.
7. Maintain a mini-gym in your office. Here are the pieces of gear I recommend:
- 5# and 25# dumbbells
- 5# ankle weights
- Swiss exercise ball
- 8-10# medicine ball
- Yoga mat
- Push up handles
- Chin up bar for a doorway
- 40# Russian Kettlebell
That should be sufficient. When you feel the positive changes in your body from engaging in ongoing physical activity, you won’t ever want to go back to prolonged sitting, and will be out of that danger zone for good!