Are you an Active Coach Potato?
That`s the term coined for those of us who jump around the gym for an hour a day, or pound the roads for a four mile trot. Then, freed of exercise guilt. we feel its ok to be sedentary for the rest of the day.
I`d tuned in to BBC`s Michael Mosley a few months back and, in the midst of a fascinating programme on how to improve cardio-vascular fitness as swiftly as possible, he delved a little into the truth about how sedentary we are.
The programme`s research showed that hitting the gym isn`t enough. We have to keep moving more throughout the day if we want to offset the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
Mosley expanded on that theory a couple of weeks ago on the Marian Finucane Show on Ireland`s Radio One. He told Marian about the experiment that had been conducted on people who worked in an estate agents. They volunteered, for the purposes of the experiment, to stand for three hours a day for ten weeks.
The volunteers had their blood sugar tested, before and after the trial. They also wore heart rate monitors.
And yes, you`ve guessed it, standing improved their heart rates, and their blood sugar control. They also burned more fat. In fact, standing for just three hours per day meant that, in the course of a year, they would have run the calorific equivalent of ten marathons.
So, even if your job demands that you`re chained to a desk, maybe you could do that work standing. At the very least, Mosley says, you should stand for a minute every half hour to offset the effects of all that sitting about.
Runner`s World is even more strident and graphic in it`s presentation of the effects of sitting this month.
Yes,as you`ll see from the cover sub heading, the article compares sitting with smoking.
“The more you sit, the poorer your health and the earlier you may die, no matter how much you run or how fit you are”
Heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and even depression, are all higher in people who sit for nine hours or more per day.
And it doesn`t matter how fit you are. It`s the sitting that causes the problem.
“Running can do you an awful lot of good” states the article “but if you spend the rest of your waking hours sitting, those health benefits deprecate”
The article also tosses in the theory that “regular exercisers may actually make less of an effort to move outside of their designated exercise times”
Well, that`s me, for sure. Some days I feel so darn smug about my long slow run, I`ll loll about the place for the rest of the day.
Some people are taking this matter so seriously, they`re actually working from special standing desks, rather than sitting down. Others actually do their desk job while walking on a treadmill. Though I think I`ll pass on that one.
But the truth is, some of my runner`s high comes from feeling I`ve deserved my spell on the coach. And my day job-remember all that cloak and dagger stuff I do from the comfort of a bar stool?-is pretty sedentary in itself. I really must make a conscious effort to take proper sitting breaks. As in breaks from sitting.
And this research really scares me when I look at life inside the Chook House. The Teens are practically tethered to the coach with an assortment of wires and screens. They probably do move on average every half hour to raid the fridge or the biscuit tin, compounding the damage to their blood sugar levels in the process.
Could it be, that in the lifetimes of Generation Layabout, sitting really will be frowned upon as much as smoking is now? Perhaps they will be greeted by a raft of newly designed desks in the offices of the future? And maybe sitting about on exercise balls, as recommended in “Runner`s World” will be the big trend? Everywhere – airports, passport offices, cinemas- will have specially designed sections to encourage people to stand.
And stamped on window panes and walls will be stickers and posters with a big red X on a big black sofa declaring
Oh, and by the way, I`m writing this from a laying position. But, that`s okay for Red Hens…
Excellent articles on the subject here…
- BBC News Magazine article on the Michael Mosley programme about standing.
- Article from the National Centre for Biotechnology Information
- You`ll probably love the youtube video on High Intensity Training
- And, if you get a chance, Mosley`s Trust Me I`m A Doctor BBC Two Thursdays 8.00 pm BST is worth viewing for anyone interested in health.
Picture Credits: Mrs Potato Head is from http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/toy-story-2/picks/results/288804/which-character-best-addition-toy-story-2
Runner`s World pic is my own.