We decided to write a little about this topic given the last several months of uncertainty. With limited access to gyms and more people teleworking, there is a trend toward a sedentary lifestyle, which was already quite prevalent in our society. As you can imagine, there are a multitude of poor health outcomes related to sedentary lifestyles stemming from increases in stress, weight gain, poor eating habits, tobacco and alcohol use. There is also evidence that sedentary lifestyle increases risk of multiple types of cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Makes sense, right? So what do we do about it?...
Well, it’s tough to go from pure sedentary to a full gym schedule 6 days a week.
We get it. Let’s talk about where to start.
1) Engage yourself. Get your mind wrapped around the idea of being more active. The body will follow when the mind commits. Identify the barriers to being active from the start. Consider solutions before they even become difficult. Is it lack of access to equipment? Alternative time commitments? Family considerations? Lack of social support? Start trying to solve these questions early.
2) Enjoy it. Find something that you can have a little fun doing. It will stick much better if you find joy in what you do. A walk to your favorite park can lift your mood but it also gets you moving. Make it a goal to find some passion in activity. Take a walking break at work. Even if it’s your snack break, walk around while eating rather than having a seat.
3) Start slow if you’re not used to exercising regularly. Find 20 minutes to walk at a pace that allows you to keep a conversation going. Over a few weeks you can increase the time and intensity as your body adjusts. Three to five times per week at the beginning will lead to every day in a short amount of time.
What about strength training and weights? These are important too! Loading of muscle and bone is great for preventing bone loss and enhancing functional ability. There is also evidence that this can improve cholesterol and blood pressure control. It is advisable to talk with a trainer and your doctor before actually beginning a weightlifting routine if you’ve never done this before. They can help you with specific exercise prescriptions as well as rep schemes and building over time.
We are going to throw in some info on other examples of simple ways to get moving and keep moving (See routine below). Everyone stay strong and don’t let yourself get bogged down in a sedentary lifestyle as we all adjust to the new way of the world these days… We can all work SMARTER and HARDER!
Piepoli, M. F., M. Dellborg, M. Borjesson. Physical activity and leisure-time exercise prescription for sedentary/untrained individuals. Textbook of Sports Cardiology. 2019.
Perform the follow movements Every hour of work for 10-15 mins:
Seated cat/cow x 10 total
Seated Piriformis stretch x 20-30 sec each side
Seated figure 4 stretch x 20-30 sec each side
Seated Samson Stretch x 10 total (alternating sides)
Seated crossbody lat reach over x 10 (total alternating sides)