Do you find yourself beng more inactive lately? You are not alone. A sedentary lifestyle has become all too common these days. Technology is wonderful but we find ourselves in front of some screen or sitting in a car way too much these days. Think about it. We don’t have to get up and answer the phone change the channel or even grocery shop anymore! We ride everywhere either in a car or public transportation. Even our entertainment is on a screen! We have T.V’s, video games, computers, our phones and the list goes on. Most schools have removed or greatly reduced Physical Education! Our poor children don’t even know what playing outside is like! And heaven forbid they should sweat!
No wonder chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression and heart failure are running rampant in not just our country, but the world. In her article Sitting Disease: How a Sedentary Lifestyle Affects Heart Health Dr. Erin Donnelly Michos explains that according to the American Heart Association sedentary jobs have increase by as much as 83% since 1950 and physically active jobs only count for about 20% of the work force. I can attest to that fact 1000 times over! Let me tell you my story.
About 2 1/2 years ago, I changed jobs where I work full time. I went from a job that was fairly active, getting up and down multiple times a day. Outside of work I was also very active. I exercised every day and was in really good shape. In my new position, I quickly realized I would NOT be moving as much and then the bottom dropped out. We lost a couple of employees and that left only 2 people doing the job of 5! Needless to say, I had to start working A LOT of overtime and when you add that to my hour commute each way…I was sitting for at least 12-13 hours a day! At first, I thought “I’ll be ok. It’ll only be for a little while”. I wasn’t able to workout or even get a walk in on my breaks which had been my practice. Well, this went on for almost a year! No working out, no walking, nothing. Basically, I was getting up, going to work, coming home, eating and going to bed.
Oh The Pain!
After about 10 months, I started having a problem with my right hip and foot. It got so bad that at one point, I could harldy put any pressure on my foot when I’d first stand up. My hip would almost go out on me when I’d go to stand and I was in so much pain, I could hardly walk. I was seen by 2 Podiatrists (both with different diagnosis), 2 Physical Therapists (both with different treatments) but it wasn’t until I went to a Massage Therapist that I was finally able to get some relief. At this point, I had been diagnosed with a rare condition called Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome (yep, just like Carpel Tunnel but in the ankle) and Plantar Fasciatis, I was put in a walking boot, given inserts and had hydro therapy.
Finally Get It Right
Finally we figured out it was all caused by a muscle imbalance due to too much sitting. The physical therapy did help and the hydro therapy gave me quite a bit of relief. I also dealt with some mild depression at this point and almost gave up my blog. I mean, how was I going to help anyone else when I was in such bad shape myself! It’s took me a few months to get back to being able to exercise like I used to but I’m not able to perform like I did before.
The Negative Effects Of A Sedentary Lifestyle
So how dose inactivity affect us? Let’s take a closer look.
When we are less active, we usually gain weight. And when we gain weight your chance of developing some sort of chronic disease increases dramatically. Heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity just to name a few. Let’s break down each one and see how not moving affects our bodies.
Your heart is a muscle and needs to be worked just like any other muscle in order to stay healthy. When you exercise, it improves your hearts ability to pump blood to your lungs and to muscles as well as the rest of the body. More oxygen is delivered and capilaries (the little viens) widen and are able to move more oxygen and carry away waste products. Exercise also raises HDL (good cholesterol) and lowers LDL (bad cholesterol). W
According to the American Diabetes Association it has been widely thought that insulin resistance was do to aging but research has shown that it is due more to inactivity and obesity than aging. Rather aging prematurly may be a result of inactivity and obesity! Something to think about!
High Blood Pressure
Inactivity tends to make blood pressure higher. In this article on ‘Getting Active To Control Blood Pressure’ the American Heart Association states exercise can help to lower your blood pressure. As stated before, they reccomened 150 minutes of “moderate-intensity” physical activity. That’s just 30 minutes 5 days a week.
Most of us have heard about endorphins, but how many of us understand how they work. Endorphins are the “feel good” chemicals that are released when you exercise. Harvard Medical School states that one in 10 adults in the United States struggles with depression. According to their research, exercise is as good as antidepressants for some people (not anyone suffering with severe depression). To get the most benefit you don’t even have to run for hours to get that ‘runners high’! Again, it advised that moderate-intensity is the best way to improve your mood!
So we’ve discussed how a sedentary lifestyle can negatively impact your life. Now, you may be asking “What can I do to get more active?”. Here are some suggestions and the list is definitely not complete. Use these as a starting place then your imagination to come up with some others that suite you and your lifestyle.
The ver FIRST thing you MUST do is be seen by your doctor. Don’t ever start a workout program without first being cleared by your physician.
Find something that you like to do. It won’t do you any good if you hate it and quit after a couple weeks
Fit it in to your daily routine. You do not HAVE to go to a gym! Use the world as your gym. Here are a few suggestsion.
Ideas To Fit Activity Into Your Day
Take the stairs
Park further away
Stand at your desk
Sit on and exercise ball at work (these last two are ones that I’ve incorporated into my life and it’s been magical!)
Don’t record your T.V. shows but instead, use the commercials as a time to get moving (This is one of my favorite tips to new clients just starting out) jumping jacks, marching in place, ab exercises, or push-ups
Keep some dumbells by the couch and do some arm work while you’re watching your shows
Play outside with your kids! All of you will benefit. You’ll not only get some activity in but you’ll be making memories that will last a lifetime!
Walk around while you are on the phone
Do squats, lunges and calf raises while at your desk or waiting for the microwave to cook your food
Depending on where you live, walk or ride a bike to work or the store
Plant and maintain a garden
You don’t have to have huge chunks of time either. Try carving out small portions throughout your day. I have 2 fifteen minute breaks a day so I take a walk at 10am and 2pm every day when it’s not raining. You can even break it down into 10 minute increments if you have to. The key is to move. You’re worth it!
Wrapping It All Up
So here’s the thing. A sedentary lifestyle can cause you to develop any of the above chronic diseases that were mentioned but it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to have a lot of special equipment. Nor do you have to have huge amounts of time. What you do need to have is the desire to keep your body healthy. So get out there and move!
Do you have a favorite way to get moving? Please share it with us. You can comment below or send me an email. I’d love to hear what gets you going. Do you need help? Send me an email. Let me help you plan out a strategie that would help you. Just remember, I’m always here and willing to answer any questions you may have.
Until next time…