The Truth About Sitting


Are you an Active Coach Potato?

Mrs Potato Head


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.

Sitting is the New Smoking

Sitting is the New Smoking

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

“No Sitting”

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…

Picture Credits: Mrs Potato Head is from

Runner`s World pic is my own.



The Truth About High Intensity Training

The Truth About Exercise

The Truth About Exercise

If you`ve half an interest in living longer, if you`re a parent, a kid, and or a fitness fiend, heck, if you`re a person, you must watch this.

It`s called “The Truth About Exercise”.
I`m guessing it`s not even news to some of you. This  BBC documentary premiered last year, after all. And the ideas it contains may not be new to you either. But they`re certainly new to me. And life changing.

The documentary presenter, Michael Mosley, is keen to find a more efficient, effective way of exercising than slogging for hours in the gym. What he discovers-with the help of scientists who have researched this-is that three minutes of exercise per week is enough to improve our cardi-vascular fitness and help improve our insulin/sugar balance.


It`s called High Intensity Training or yep, sorry to add yet another darned acronym to your collection ~HIT.

The key element of those three minutes, is that the exercise has to be twenty seconds of very tough high aerobic exercise. So, the documentary shows Mosley sweating his guts out on a stationary bike. But, just for twenty seconds. He takes a break, then back at it for another twenty seconds, another break, another twenty. And that`s IT. Done and dusted.

Do two more sessions of that per week and that`s all you need to push your blood glucose into safe levels and improve your cardio-vascular rating.

Oh, there`s other gems in the documentary too. Like how fat enters our bloodstream after a fry-up- you could literally see the fat floating around in there. And how  avoiding sitting around and just staying on your feet and moving makes such a difference to health and fitness. I urge you to watch that documentary soon. Or at least read up about it.

Fascinating and really important stuff.

Could it be that in running ten miles at an easy pace, I`m really just wasting my time insofar as improving my cardio-vascular fitness is concerned?

And if I pumped up the intensity in my interval sessions more, and shortened them, would that improve my overall fitness?

I worked HIT into my run yesterday. Truth be told, I took it easy.Just went for a pleasant amble on the beach and then did intervals-just like Mosley-bursts of really fast(well, for me!) stuff, then relaxing, repeating that four times.

Rocks, Gormanstown Beach March 2013

After that, I had a very pleasant swim in the sea. I tried ignoring the fact that there were so many people on the beach and just one swimmer. Yep, that was me! That always makes me nervous, like they`ve spotted a Man O War or shark or something.



Added to that, the sea itself was eerily calm. You know. Just like that opening sequence in JAWS. Heck, I could even hear that darned tuba and those cellos striking out their warning across the bay.

Brodie-My Hero

Brodie-Where are you when I need you?

And there wasn`t a Brodie in sight to save me.

Luckily, I got over that,and soon felt like I was bobbing about in a giant bath, surrounded by wallpaper poster of mountains, headland, sky and sea. The full 360. Yeah, nice.

There`s something about moving through all that salt and water that makes me feel just fantastic. I wouldn`t mind if Michael Mosley got a few more science geeks investigating that combination. It`s probably one of the very best things we can do for our physical and mental well-being.

Unfortunately, it can have an adverse effect on one`s perception of oneself. When I emerged, I believed I was a reincarnation of Ursula Andress.

Ursula "Red Hen" Andress

Ursula “Red Hen” Andress

Yeah, I felt that good.

Damned well couldn`t find a conch big enough, and unfortunately I had lost my dagger when I was warding off that marauding shark. But, otherwise, I was, in every way possible, the living embodiment of that most famous of Bond girls.

Maybe it`s time they investigated Delusional Effect of High Intensity Training…

Credits: JAWS pic

Brodie pic:

Ursula Andress pic: