Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Active Couch Potato

Day 8 of being sick. I am going crazy.

My legs want to run, but I can't. Rather, I shouldn't. I went to the doctors after work yesterday and they confirmed that I have an upper respiratory infection. It's a viral infection that should go away within 7-10 days. I am at day 8, and going a little nuts. I am sure somebody out there has been in my shoes. I am feeling well enough to function (going to work, grocery shopping, making dinner) but not well enough to feel good or be able to resume physical activity.

I miss running. Yes, that thing that I love to hate. I actually miss it! Since I am not able to get back out there and run just yet, I have been reading about running. More specifically, I have been browsing www.runnersworld.com. They have a bunch of great articles on their site, one of which caught my eye this morning.

"Sitting is the New Smoking - Even for Runners"

Photo from runnersworld.com

Here are some blurbs from the article:

"But wait, you're a runner. You needn't worry about the harms of sedentary living because you're active, right? Well, not so fast. A growing body of research shows that people who spend many hours of the day glued to a seat die at an earlier age than those who sit less—even if those sitters exercise.

Unless you have a job that keeps you moving, most of your nonrunning time is likely spent sitting. And that would make you an "active couch potato"—a term coined by Australian researcher Genevieve Healy, Ph.D., of the University of Queensland to describe exercisers who sit most of their day. If they aren't careful, she says, active couch potatoes face the same health risks as their completely inactive counterparts.

"Your body is designed to move," Hamilton says. "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.

Although running does much good for you, Healy says, 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.
Scared straight out of your chair? Good. Because the remedy is as simple as standing up and taking activity breaks. Stuart McGill, Ph.D., director of the Spine Biomechanics Laboratory at the University of Waterloo says that interrupting your sedentary time as often as possible and making frequent posture changes is important. "Even breaks as short as one minute can improve your health," he says. Developing healthier habits will also improve your running performance, says Nikki Reiter, biomechanist with The Run S.M.A.R.T. Project. The combination of going for a run and then parking your butt for the rest of the day (or vice versa) could be a recipe for injury. "The static sitting position can cause certain muscles to become tight or overstretched, neither of which is good for your running," she says. Even if you went for a really intense or long run, regular activity throughout the day will help your recovery. So stand up now: It's good for your body and mind."

This article spoke to me. I have a 40 minute drive in to work, a desk job where I sit for 8 hours, then a 40 minute drive home. My typical active evening includes a run, but then it's usually back on the couch to relax. I am definitely one of those "active couch potatoes" defined above.

Now that I'm aware, I plan to make a change. I am going to set a calendar reminder every hour so that I remember to stand up, and walk around. Even if just for a couple minutes. Every little bit helps!

If you have a desk job, or are sitting often throughout the day, what changes are you planning to incorporate for your health?

1 comment:

  1. I'm a SAHM, and as I got active eight years ago, I have SUCH a hard time just sitting! Going to church for three hours is now torture, even a movie is hard. Any long drive I dread so much. At home, while I'll pop on the computer for a while each day, I'm always up and moving. I stand during the kids sports because I really can't just sit anymore. I worry if I'd be able to cope if I had to go back to desk job!