What if you learned that for every hour we sit, we cut about 22 minutes from our life span?
While technology has provided us with amazing opportunities for advancement and quality of life, it also comes with its 21st century problems.
Some research suggests that sitting is the new ‘silent killer’– contributing to increased rates of chronic problems like back pain and increased propensity for obesity – especially amongst white collar workers.
It’s no wonder that there has been a proliferation of Thai Massage shops that have sprung up in my home city of Sydney.
Over the last several months, I have become concerned about the amount of time I was sitting. I felt lethargic, overweight, low in energy and tight around my bum and legs. Not good at all.
So I researched a few ways to feel more energetic while I was at work.
Here is what I have learned:
1. The Pomodoro Technique.
According to Tony Schwartz, we can work best when we go for 45 minute sprints. The Pomodoro technique works along similar lines. You turn off all desktop and device distractions and focus for 25 minute stints. Then you rest for a short interval. At that rest time you get up from your desk, walk and schmooze, go to the water cooler or whatever. Then rinse and repeat.
After the end of a series of Pomodoros, you then have a longer stretch or rest period. Rests are anywhere between 5 to 15 minutes.
2. Sit less. Stand more.
Our body's fat-burning furnaces essentially switch off when we are sitting for extended periods. Some research has shown that sitting leads to a bigger bottom caused by the mechanical pressure that it puts on our fat cells.
3. Stand to burn more calories.
When we stand, our hearts pump about ten beats a minute faster than when we sit. Depending on what your weight is, you can burn up around fifty calories every hour just by standing. That’s the equivalent of a slice of bread. Multiply that by 4 hours across 5 days for 40 weeks and that’s a burn of 40,000 calories per year… just by standing.
What does that translate to? Losing about 10 kilos or 22 pounds of fat in a year.
4. Incidental Activity works wonders.
Being sedentary for nine hours a day at the office is bad for your health whether you go home and watch television afterwards or hit the gym. It is bad whether you are morbidly obese or even a marathon runner. It has been suggested that breaking up that sitting time is more beneficial than going to the gym.
Incidental exercise on the other hand is any exercise or physical activity you can incorporate as part of your daily routine such as walking around the supermarket, doing household chores or even just getting up to change the channel on the television. Research has found this activity is the best kind overall.
So what are the solutions that give me more energy?
1. Wearable technology.
To activate incidental exercise, I became a fan of FitBit and spar with my walking community on a day to day basis. FitBit keeps me accountable to my own goal of walking at least 10,000 steps per day. My latest FitBit gadget is the Charge HR.
2. Get a standing desk.
I did some research and decided to go 'all in' and buy a height adjustable standing desk by Varidesk. My model of choice is the 36 in white. I also decided to invest in their gel mat. I decided to get the mat and wheel my office chair far from my desk. As I said, ‘all in’. 100%.
I combine the health benefits of standing with the incidental exercise that my FitBit measures.
I choose to start my day with a morning meditation of 10 – 20 minutes. I find the simple repetition of a ‘mantra’ or the visualisation of refreshing my ‘chakra’ points is a wonderful energiser. I have found the less technical or prescriptive I am with my mediation, the better is the effect.
How do I feel?
I love my FitBit and feel obsessed about charging it so I beat myself and my walking mates each and every day.
At my desk, I truly feel great at work. I have absolutely no back pain, totally no neck pain, 100% no bum pain and I am a half belt notch down in a week.
I have found that at 3pm when my biorhythms are normally at their lowest, and I traditionally want to take a nap (hey I am in my 50s) I no longer feel the urge to do so. And I have no need to visit a Thai massage shop.
And with my Varidesk, I am typing at my keyboard so well that any ergonomic Health and Safety Expert would give me a gold star.
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