Is Sitting the New Smoking? Top 12 Tips to Reduce the Risk

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The Globe and Mail has recently reported that “Sitting is the New Smoking” — and they’re right! There is overwhelming literature proving that chronic sitting, or, more importantly, being sedentary, is comparably dangerous to your health as chronic smoking.

See articles from the Mayo Clinic and Optimize Yourself in support of this.

Research has also shown that it requires at least an hour of intense exercise to offset the negative effects of sitting for 6-7 hours per day. However, simply reducing inactivity, by increasing the time spent walking or standing, is a more effective way to help reduce certain health risks than one hour of physical exercise.

But what about trying exercise at various time of the day (a.k.a intermittent exercise)?

The Value of Intermittent Exercise

The term ‘intermittent’ means to stop and start at intervals. This term has become more familiar as High Intensity Interval Training or Exercise (HIIT or HHIE) has increased in popularity.  Especially since emerging research, examining high-intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE), indicates that it may be more effective at reducing subcutaneous and abdominal body fat than other types of exercise

From a primal or ancestral perspective, our bodies are made to move throughout the entire day and not simply for 30-60 minutes in the morning or evening.

How do we incorporate intermittent exercise into our daily lives?

There are many ways to start incorporating intermittent exercise into our daily lives, but here are a few tips that I’ve found helpful myself:

  1. Take every opportunity to lift or pick up any object as a basic squat exercise.  If you have small children, you can easily complete 100 per day picking them up or the objects they leave on the floor!
  2. Forage like your ancestors. Walk to the grocery store and carry a cloth bag to bring your produce home.
  3. Avoid all unnecessary sitting. This will be a new form of endurance exercise for you. I guarantee you will feel it as delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMs), but it will be worth it in the long run!
  4. Get a chin-up bar and place it under a doorway you pass often. Treat it as you would treat mistletoe during Christmas, except replace the kiss with a bar hang or a few chins every time you pass under. Learn the proper progressions and ‘how-to’ here.  If you are unable to complete a chin-up, you can use a stool or chair to assist or simply use resistance bands and try a pull-down exercise.
  5. Exercise break 5 minutes/hour and set an alarm. Have some weights beside your entertainment area and do some basic exercises (squats, squat press, squat bicep curls, push-ups, tricep dips, plank, bridge, etc.).
  6. Try 10 kettlebell swings every 30 minutes.
  7. Commit to completing a certain number of squats, steps (consider a pedometer), push-ups, pull-downs, chin-ups, and so on each day and allow yourself to accumulate these over the course of the day, week, month, year.
  8. For those of you that must be glued to a desk or computer for work, consider using a wobble disc or stability ball for 10 minutes every hour.
  9. Complete a sprint H.I.I.T. once per week (10-20 minutes).
  10. Complete a super-slow resistance training workout once per week (10-20)
  11. Make a habit of doing a daily walk, at any time of day for a minimum of 10 minutes. You will see how easy it is to add a few more minutes.
  12. Walk during phone calls — or get rid of the phone, email, and IMs, and actually walk to speak to your colleagues in the office.

Have a great intermittent workout!

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