A healthy lifestyle blog by ACE Certified Group Exercise Trainer.

Sitting is the new smoking

It's true! Scan health and fitness sites everywhere and you will find articles and findings that we are slowly killing ourselves by spending too much time sitting at our desks or on the couch. Our bodies are not meant to sit for hours at a time, but many of us do- in the car, at home, at work.

If you are like me, an active exerciser, you might think that "sitting" too much isn't an issue for you because you regularly exercise. Think again! Even if you exercise an hour everyday, if you still sit quite a bit, you are still at risk of suffering the negative consequences of a sedentary lifestyle. Read this article from Runner's World about the dangers of Sitting, even for active people!

Our bodies are designed to move. Sitting for an extended period of time causes your body to shut down at the metabolic level. When your muscles, especially certain leg muscles, are immobile, your circulation slows. So you use less of your blood sugar and you burn less fat, which increases your risk of heart disease and diabetes. 

Indeed, a study of 3,757 women found that for every two hours they sat in a given work day, their risk for developing diabetes went up seven percent, which means their risk is 56 percent higher on days they sit for eight hours. And a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology reports that a man who sits more than six hours a day has an 18 percent increased risk of dying from heart disease and a 7.8 percent increased chance of dying from diabetes compared with someone who sits for three hours or less a day. Although running does much good for you, if you spend the rest of your waking hours sitting, those health benefits depreciate. In a 12-year study of more than 17,000 Canadians, researchers found that the more time people spent sitting, the earlier they died—regardless of age, body weight, or how much they exercised. (Runner's World).

So what should we do? The answer is relatively simple. Take more breaks! Standing up and walking around or even stretching for just 1 minute can help. 

Here's some ideas to counteract sitting too much:

  • Set an alarm on your phone or computer every hour to remind you to get up and walk for 1-5 minutes.
  • Drink extra water, guaranteeing you'll have to get up and walk to the bathroom
  • Stand up and pace the room during phone calls or meetings
  • Stand at a kitchen counter or bar, while you browse you phone, ipad or laptop catching up on social media and emails
  • Incorporate "walking meetings" at work, where you walk around the building 
  • Stand or walk in place while watching your tv shows (or at least during commercials!)
  • Park farthest away everywhere you go
  • if you have a desk job, ask about buying a standing treadmill desk or exercise ball chair
Another helpful way to stay on top of the amount of time you "sit" is to invest in an activity tracker. These come as wristbands or clip on devices that look like a bracelet or watch. Even simple pedometers can help. 
Activity Trackers

I just ordered the new Garmin Vivofit activity band. I have been wanting a tracker for awhile now, but hadn't found one with all the features I wanted until now. I tried the Fitbit Flex, but I wasn't overly thrilled with it. It would not wirelessly sync with the iPhone 4, so I could only sync with it when I was near my computer. I also didn't like the fact that it had no display screen (which some people like, but I really wanted a quick way to look at my stats). You also have to charge the Fitbit every 5-7 days. It does not come with a heart rate monitor (all calorie burn estimates are based on your steps and what you manually enter in the app). So for me it felt like an expensive pedometer. I did like the vibrating alarm on it, but that was it.
Fitbit & Jawbone Up

My friend owns the Jawbone Up and really likes it. By far, it's the most attractive looking, very stylish, thin bracelet. But it does not have a display screen nor does it sync wirelessly. You have to plug it into your headphone jack to sync to your phone. Now I do like the fact that it syncs with MyFitness pal so it will input your calories burned in there. It also has the vibrating alarm. Again, no heart rate monitor, and you have to charge it once a week.

Enter the Garmin Vivofit. This device looks like a bracelet band, with a display screen. You can easily toggle between the time, the steps you've done, your calories burned, heart rate and more. I like that! It wirelessly syncs with the app on your phone so you don't have to worry about being within a certain distance of your computer or plugging in anything. The battery lasts one year. Yep! It operates on a small circle battery used in watches. It also syncs up to a Heart rate monitor strap. So for me, this fit the bill on my must-have list. I don't think it has a vibrating sleep alarm, it is not backlit, so it will be hard to see the screen in certain lighting, and I'm not sure if it syncs with myfitness pal or other apps, but those things weren't deal breakers for me personally. It costs $129 without heart rate strap or $169 with. Not a bad price! Comes in several colors- black, gray, blue, teal, purple.
Garmin Vivofit
I am looking forward to using it and I will make sure to post a full review once I have it in hand! What fitness trackers do you use? Do you feel like you sit too much? Let me know!