Weight Loss News and Current Events - You Can't Out-Exercise Sitting All Day

04-16-2011, 01:00 AM
As many of you know I post links to this article from the New York Times frequently: Hazards of the Couch (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/12/the-hazards-of-the-couch/)

This week the Times came out with additional coverage (April 14: Is Sitting A Lethal Activity? (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/magazine/mag-17sitting-t.html?src=me&ref=homepage)) on recent studies expounding on this growing claim, that the one or two hours of specific exercise we do each day does not undo the harmful effects of sitting all day, in a cubicle, or on the couch, staring at some sort of screen. Extremely inactive individuals and marathon runners alike both experience health problems associated with insulin ineffectiveness, low metabolism, and lipid and trigicyeride breakdown brought on by prolonged periods of sitting.

It's a good reminder that those little movements throughout the day- standing up for an hour to cook dinner, walking across the parking lot (or better yet, walking to the store!) and other small acts we tend to forgo as we focus more on hitting the gym hard are arguably just as important as rigorous exercise.

Nola Celeste
04-16-2011, 01:41 AM
It's good to have that reminder, but those of us who work sedentary jobs may not have a choice. I've taken to setting an alarm to remind me to get up and stretch occasionally, but I'm not likely to find new employment as a construction worker or anything. ;)

It's kind of a depressing finding, isn't it? Most people in industrialized nations no longer do physically demanding jobs compared to how our forebears lived. The average housewife of a hundred years ago got more exercise just doing the shopping, cooking, and laundry than most of us do from concerted efforts to add exercise to our days. I don't know that that trend is reversible short of a catastrophe that sets technology back a few centuries.

I know I'm sure not going to forsake my washer and dryer to pound my delicates on a rock at the edge of the Mississippi River just because getting more exercise is healthy. :D

I do appreciate the link. It's a good reminder that every little bit counts--and that I should wrap up my work so I can do something more active than sitting here in my computer chair. :)

04-16-2011, 02:10 AM
As a fellow desk-jobber, I know what you mean! But I think there are steps we can take, including getting up and walking around the office every 30 minutes, taking a walk during the lunch break, etc. Even sitting on a stability ball requires more energy than slumping in a chair and I know several people who use these at work.

Little choice of what to do at work though means the choices we make during our discretionary time AFTER work are all the more important. Gardening, knitting, working a puzzle, taking a walk, standing up and walking around the house when calling friends, and taking time to cook dinner are all activities that are better than sitting on the couch from 6 PM- bedtime. Like you said, a good reminder that pretty much anything is better than watching TV and sitting in front of the computer for hours on end :D

04-17-2011, 02:10 AM
Aren't knitting and puzzles considered sedentary activities?

04-17-2011, 07:09 AM
Aren't knitting and puzzles considered sedentary activities?

Did you get a chance to read the articles? The studies suggest while they are activities completed while sitting, they are far better than truly sedentary activities: sitting in front of a screen. Even activities done while sitting down, such as knitting, reading, and completing puzzles, deliver more health benefits and burn more calories than being watching TV or sitting in front of a computer, activities in which human tend to be virtually motionless. Obviously reading or knitting are not considered exercising, but recent research seems to indicate that *anything* is better than just sitting in front of a screen.

04-17-2011, 08:58 AM
I just started knitting and I've been knitting almost every day so it's good to hear that is better than just sitting. My main problem now is as a student and a desk worker, I am sitting more than ever.

At work though, whenever I get up to get water or go to the bathroom, I make a lap around the inside of the building. Although if I have a lot of meetings during the day, the laps are pretty quick :)

At school, we have 3 hours of labs per week and I instead of sitting during lab, I stand. I also volunteer to fetch things for our group table.

04-17-2011, 09:55 AM
Ever since I first heard of the concept of NEAT I've tried to incorporate more non-exercise activity into my day. Being a teacher on a large campus is definitely a help to my activity level - my office and 5 classes are all in different buildings, so I walk all day, PLUS stand as much as possible while teaching.

What I've noticed, though, is that most days after that I'm beat. I'm home around 6 or 6:30, cook dinner, then collapse on the couch to go online or watch TV for a couple of hours before bed. This was especially tempting in the dark, dreary winter.

The good news is that it's lighter longer now, so I'm going to try to get outside more after I get home. The article is a good reminder why it's important.

04-17-2011, 02:21 PM
Very interesting articles. :yes:

I've always had the idea that any extra bit of physical activity could only help, so in the past few years I've tried my best to incorporate as much extra movement into my day. This includes hanging my clothes to dry instead of using the dryer(even in winter- I hang them on hangers on the shower curtain), often using a stability ball instead of a chair, walking or using public transit even when a car is available, walking to the farthest available restroom in the house instead of the one that's just a few steps away, manually watering flowers/grass instead of using sprinklers, etc.

It's good to know that going out of my way to do these sorts of things might not be in vain.

04-19-2011, 02:12 AM
nelie and Horo, kudos to both of you for including activities and movements throughout the day. Some great ideas for the rest of us on creative ways to keep those muscles working as much as possible. And no, mounting evidence seems to suggest that these little decisions we make are NOT in vain!

04-19-2011, 08:40 AM
I know sitting in front of a computer screen is bad, but is it just as bad if I'm typing on one of my stories? Wouldn't that be similar to reading a book or doing a puzzle?

04-19-2011, 09:30 AM
I love the chairless class room experiment. I can't begin to say how many times I was called to the school to have a teacher tell me that my children would just not sit still.

Well, DUH! All 3 of them were diagnosed with ADHD, and I decided (after much, much research) to "treat" this condition with diet and positive reinforcement, rather than drugs. Of course, it drove the teachers crazy. Can't say as I always blamed them. However, all 3 of my boys were/are thin, and that's not with the greatest eating habits in the world. The constant moving and fidgeting has kept them slim. Only my middle son has managed to bulk up with continued weight lifting. The other 2, still skinny as rails without any standard exercise.

04-19-2011, 11:01 AM
Serval I can't claim to be an expert on the subject but from what I've read it seems in terms of metabolism and muscle health, anything is better than sitting in front of a screen, even if sitting in front of the screen means typing out a story or working 9-5 in a cubicle. I think it has to with a) the length of time we are in one position- usually we are in front of the computer for hours, whereas we are only reading or doing another sedentary activity for a shorter period of time, b) the actual act of sitting, which is not the healthiest in terms of blood flow, lower back and hip health, etc and c) when we are in front of a screen we tend to be even more motionless than if we are knitting, reading, etc.

There are various steps people who on the computer all day or for hours on end can do to at least mitigate some the harmful effects of sitting. Some get up and walk around every 20 or so minutes, some sit on a stability ball instead of a chair (which engages the core muscles), and some modify their workstation so they stand at the computer while working on it instead of sitting. I tried this last one and need to return to it. It's a little bit weird to stand up while at the computer, but once you get in the groove of it, its fairly normal. Burns a ton more calories than sitting and helps with lower body muscle and joint strength!

04-19-2011, 01:42 PM
That sucks. I exercise an hour before and an hour after work every day, but i sit in front of a computer all day. I feel like i'm working really hard by exercising before and after work, but it sucks to know that that's not enough.

04-19-2011, 01:55 PM
It is better than nothing though. I think if you can work in some activity, whether it is standing up during a teleconference, parking your car further away when going to work, grocery shopping, etc or something, it helps.

04-20-2011, 12:03 AM
surfergirl The exercise you are practicing is doing your heart, muscles, and bones a world of good. Don't think that your efforts are in vain!

Like nelie said, as more research is done on the effect of sedentary lifestyles, more ideas to counteract the effects of sitting in front of the computer all day come about. Have you perused through this thread? Some folks have awesome ideas for including movement throughout the day.

The ones I tend to use are: standing up and walking around the office every half hour (or as often as I can), standing up in meetings when the chairs are full (i.e. conveniently coming in right before the meeting starts and the chairs are full so I have to stand, and politely declining all the chivalrous men who offer their seat :)), standing up at the computer at home from time to time, doing stretches when I watch TV, take a brief walk around the block during lunchtime, etc. And like I mentioned, some folks sit on a stability ball at work, which is better for the lower back and engages both the back and core. Extremely progressive offices have set up treadmill work stations where people can work and walk very slowly throughout the day.

For most of us, working on a farm all day is not a viable career option, and we will in fact be in front of a screen for 8-10 hours a day. But being aware of the toll this takes on our health and doing something about it, getting up to walk every now and then, etc is definitely within our hands!

04-20-2011, 12:42 PM
What is NEAT, please?


04-21-2011, 10:32 PM
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)

05-20-2011, 08:53 PM
indiblue - Thanks so much for pointing me in the direction of this thread! Standing at work would be complicated because I'd have to get a new desk, which would come out of my travel funds so it's not going to happen (I'd much rather go to the US or Europe ;))! That being said, I love the idea of a stability ball and have always found those things fun, so I'm going to see what the cost would be to pick one up.

It's funny, I'm normally a REALLY fidgety person so I guess that does go to my advantage! We also don't have a car and take public transit so I do a lot of sitting/walking when I'm not at work. Actually, I'm technically doing work right now and am sort of swaying/dancing back and forth because the neighbor's playing read loud dance music, I'm such a dork! :p

Oh, and I LOVED the idea about the Kindergarten. Actually, we're sending my DD to a Montessori school because I feel really strongly about including motion with learning (there's actually some great research there if anybod'y interested!) and the thought of sitting at a desk all day makes me cringe. I think I drove my teacher's nuts too because I was constantly fidgeting. I still do in meetings! :D

05-20-2011, 09:47 PM
I was thinking about this more when I was doing the dishes and realized that since I've started losing weight I've been MUCH more active when it comes to little things. I clean the house more, I'm more willing to go to the grocery store on a daily basis (I have to walk to the store), and I do more active things with DD. It's funny too because many of my skinny friends tend to have cleaner houses than my overweight friends. Now there could be a lot of reasons for that but I do know some of them turn to cleaning when they're nervous NOT food, which seems to help for a lot of reasons!

05-22-2011, 10:18 AM
Maybe I could sit on a stability ball while typing my stories? I wonder if that would mess with my concentration or increase it?

05-22-2011, 10:33 AM
There's a great bit of freeware called Stretchclock (stretchclock.com) which I use to avoid getting too stiff and cramped when I'm sewing. You set a little alarm for however often you like, say 30 min or 1 hourly intervals, and when it goes off, it takes you to a video that walks you through a 1-2 min stretch. There are about 15 stretches in the database, all designed for sedentary office workers, so that they target exactly the areas they need to (upper body, pretty much). The videos are a bit amateurish, it's a bloke standing by a lake and a home camera, but they're perfectly usable and they're good exercises. I find that when I use them, I can quilt for hours on end without getting stiff, and if I try to do that much sewing without using the exercises, my shoulders and such are killing me by the end of the day.

05-23-2011, 09:05 AM
Esofia that's a great resource. Thanks for sharing!

Serval yes, try the stability ball! It takes some getting used to, but it's worth it for the benefits you'll reap with regard to your back, joints, and heart. One thing I often do is use a regular chair and sit if I have to write for long periods of time and stand up if I'm doing stuff that doesn't require a lot of concentration (Facebook, 3FC, reading the news).

05-23-2011, 12:03 PM
I have to remind myself of this often! I work at a desk 8 hours a day, then tend to go home and sit some more... but I do at least 40 minutes of high intensity exercise daily, too.

I have seen lots of results doing this, so I guess that the article isn't necessarily true, otherwise my exercise hasn't really helped as much as I thought it did. Sad article for me! I guess that I should walk around the office every now and then, but in my position I pretty much have to stay glued to the phone.

05-23-2011, 10:27 PM
I have seen lots of results doing this, so I guess that the article isn't necessarily true, otherwise my exercise hasn't really helped as much as I thought it did.

Well, the article definitely doesn't say exercise is bad and can't help- exercise is so important for so many things and yes, it can help you with weight loss, muscle building, etc. What the article, and many other similar studies find are the other kind of damages caused by sitting that can't be counterbalanced by exercise. These include circulation, joint, cardiovascular, lower metabolism throughout the day (which can make people gain weight if they don't watch carefully what they eat, or make losing weight more difficult), lower back problems, etc.

If you are on the phone, can you stand at your desk when you are on calls? Or yes, getting up and walking around between calls is a great idea!

05-25-2011, 03:37 PM
Interesting(ish) article. When I read that inactivity damage was "Irreparable" I decided to go have a looksy at the studies. AH. NO.

But something I think we can all agree on - because it just makes sense and we do not need a study to tell us what we can see in our own real life study: Exercise is better than sitting. Anything is better than nothing.

There are many things irreparable, but saying you cannot reverse bad sedentary lifestyle ramifications by getting out there and pumping your heart and using your muscles and breathing fresh air is, on its face, poppycock.

06-07-2011, 06:25 PM
I'm not sure where am I going with this post:P
When we were kids we would just run around for the fun of it. We would bicycle just for the sake of it. We would climb trees because it seemed like a challenge. We played physical games because it was entertaintment.
As adults, we never do these types of 'random' physical activities. All our physhical outlets are done at the gym or in front of screen following videos. It's all meticiulously planned into our day. We have stopped as a community to do these type of 'random' physical activites, thus leaving it to not be considered a natural state for us to be in activity.

06-20-2011, 09:31 AM
I remember a similar study showing that fidgety people burn more calories than those who don't (heh, duh). I am extremely fidgety. When I'm sitting down, I'm always tapping my feet, my fingers, any kind of movement. It irritates people at times, but I do it subconsciously. I never knew about NEAT, or at least the term for it, but I do squeeze my glutes when I sit! That I do consciously, haha.

It helps that I work in a direct care profession, so while there is down time for sitting, a lot of the time I'm showering people, cooking their dinner, doing their laundry (downstairs!), passing meds, cleaning, etc. The past weekend I actually had a lot of energy and didn't sit much at all. I can imagine it would be so tough to work an office job and keep moving!

Interesting study!

06-22-2011, 01:39 AM
I have a sedentary life but I am working on it my strategies are currently:

Walk to and from work, walk at break times (morning and afternoon) walk to the store, carry groceries home or back to work. Find excuses to check downstairs at work afew times a day, (check the mail, go down to greet a client instead of having them brought up etc). Chair dance and throw air punches when no one else is looking while I'm waiting for modifications to save etc etc.

Where I need to do the most work is outside of work, I need to focus more on housework, and house maintenance, goodness knows my quality of life would be better if I did that.

Its just keeping that up, and sticking to structured excercise programs at the same time, I find hard to manage. :-|

08-10-2011, 02:12 PM
Well...time to get off this computer

Thank you for the information...really helpful and inspiring

08-24-2011, 07:08 AM
I hate being sedentary, this office job i'm sure is giving me cellulite and varicose veins.

I hate sitting on my butt all day. :(

09-07-2011, 12:58 PM
My work is centered just around the computer and i have to remain glued on it for the whole day to meet the work requirements. For those who have dome it can confess that its one of the most tiring jobs ever, I don't know whether I do the right thing but this is my daily plan.
in the morning i walk or cycle t the work place and walk for lunch and in the evening back home I walk or cycle...
is this enough???