We put in the work almost every day, about an hour each time. We raise our heart rates in cardiovascular exercise, and then make the rounds for strengthening and muscle building. However, is it possible that our sedentary lifestyle is negating all this hard work? Is sitting for too many hours during the day reversing all the good we do during our hard-core workouts? Studies show the answer to that question is, unfortunately, yes.
The most recent study performed at the Mayo Clinic took a look at both men and women between the ages of 12 and 49 who had no previous history of heart disease or other condition. A total of over 2,200 people participated in this study. Participants were questioned and evaluated using a treadmill test to measure fitness levels. These tests were adjusted to gender, age, and body mass to improve accuracy. The results of these tests showed that just six hours of sitting can negate an entire hour of vigorous exercise.
It all has to do with the heart. We have seen a multitude of studies that relate poor cardiovascular health with a sedentary lifestyle and poor dieting. It’s not so surprising to see that sitting too much also has a negative effect on the workout routine, when our hearts are the primary muscles used and focused on during exercise.
Fortunately, there are ways to combat a sedentary lifestyle. For office work, where you are required to be at a desk for most of the day, you can ask your company to invest in a standing desk, one that is easy to maneuver from sitting to standing positions. The idea is to sit an hour and then stand an hour, or sit a half hour and stand 1-1/2 hours. Break up the time and set an alarm to keep on track. You could also create a makeshift standing desk using books, or take a 15-minute stretch-and-move break every two hours.
For driving positions where you are required to be behind the wheel for hours at a time, you will need to take a break every two to three hours, no excuses. Pull to the side of the road, get out and move around. Take a bathroom break, wander a convenient store, or simply just walk around the car or truck and take in the sights around you. The idea is to stand and move for at least 15 minutes every two hours.
In addition to all of this, it may be worthwhile to stay on your feet as much as you can while off work. Don’t go for the couch and television show. Instead, go for the garage to work on your car, in the yard to pick some weeds, or for a walk with your spouse. There are ways to combat the sitting problem. Just make sure you’re not sitting for more than six hours in a day and your workout won’t go to waste.