For the longest time and I couldn’t figure out why the tire around my gut wasn’t going away. I was working out 5-6 times a week, I even did a few crazy carb purges, I was eating well…but still nothing! Very very frustrating. The answer came to me in a recent article by Denise Ryan in the Vancouver Sun. My chair was my worst enemy.
I recalled reading some similar reseach on this a few years back so I decided to google the term ‘sitting and obesity’. Wow. Tons (no pun intended) of stuff comes up. I discovered why, in spite of regular exercise and healthy eating, our butts and waistlines can continue to expand…sitting does nasty stuff to our biochemistry.
To help us understand this Dr James Levine from the Mayo Clinic came up with some fascinating research on obesity, weight reduction and Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT). This is the idea that expending calories through the activities of daily living is more important for calorie burning than exercise is.
Bad For Everyone
It does not matter if you hit the gym or workout regularly. What matters most is how long you are immobile. For most Canadians that amounts to 9.5 hours per day either sitting at our desks, in meetings, at our computer or in front of our TV’s. That’s over ½ our waking hours being glued to a chair. An hour of exercise however only represents 1/24th of our day and is not nearly enough to counteract the effects of prolonged sitting. Even more alarmingly this deadly physiological reaction affects the lean and overweight alike.
Taming the Chair – 9 Tips
Here are some ideas for avoiding the pitfalls of too much time in the chair:
1. Skip the elevator and take the stairs whenever you can.
2. Go see your colleague down the hall instead of emailing her.
3. Get up and move every 20 minutes or so. Whether it be to hit the water cooler or simply a walk up and down the aisle.
4. Replace your office chair with an exercise ball: this uses more muscles, hence more energy, than your chair because you have to support your back to keep yourself balanced…and you also have the option of bouncing…
6. Try having standing or walking meetings – you’ll be amazed at the increase in efficiency and productivity. Some clients have reported needing ½ the usual time for their meetings while getting more done.
7. At home instead of driving (more sitting!) walk to the corner store.
8. After work avoid the time sucking vortex of the couch…hit the gym, take the dog for a walk…anything but sitting right away.
9. Don’t laugh but consider getting a rocking chair for TV watching…you’ll at least be expending energy rocking back and forth.
I guess all of the above could be taken as a license to fidget. But whatever you choose, the data are clear: beware of your chair.
Anyone out there have any other ideas for overcoming too much time in the seat? What’s worked for you?