We all understand activity is a good thing, so why don’t we MOVE more??
by, Becky j Miller
Sadly, Americans are notorious for sedentary lifestyles. Even worse, according to AmericansHealthRankings.org, in 2016 Texans ranked among the highest nationwide, with 29.5% of adults reporting doing no physical activity outside of their regular job in the past 30 days.
In 2014, Medical Daily reported that the number of active Americans was the lowest in six years!
The numbers are staggering; of 292 million Americans ages 6 & above, 83 million are living a sedentary lifestyle!!! I honestly don’t get it. Initially I’d considered writing, “I enjoy loafing on the couch just as much as the next guy”, but I realized quickly that would be an absolute lie, and since my momma taught me to always tell the truth, well, you get the idea.
We all understand activity is a good thing, so why don’t we MOVE more?? According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, a lack of physical activity increases the risk for high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and obesity. It also puts us at risk of anxiety and depression. Do we believe we are exempt, that bad health won’t happen to us?
MensHealth.com lists seven negative effects of sedentary lifestyles:
- Your mood takes a dive 2. Your cancer risk skyrockets 3. You start to forget things 4. Your blood sugar spikes 5. Your sex life slows down 6. You’ll toss and turn
- Your backache gets worse
Should you find yourself among the 83 million Americans living a sedentary lifestyle, don’t despair, small changes can have big impacts. Not sure where to start? The best place is to ask your doctor, particularly if there are medical conditions that prevent certain activities. Suffer from White Coat Syndrome? The internet is also full of useful information, just be sure your research comes from reputable sites.
Five years ago I made a small change that has caused me not one single regret, I moved to a standing workstation. As a runner, it seemed counterproductive to spend more hours sitting at my desk during the workweek than I did practicing my sport. Even worse, after a long exhausting workday, especially as my children grew up, got their own cars and the “Mom Shuttle” was no longer necessary; I’d arrive home, plop on the couch and not move until bedtime.
During my runs, I found my hips ached. I could find no other reason for the discomfort besides sitting all day. I knew standing workstations existed and thought having one would benefit my health. Finally the company I worked for decided to try a pilot program and yay me, given my medical history, broken neck and all, I was chosen as a tester.
The day my brand new Varidesk arrived, was almost as exciting as Christmas!!! The desk has a feature that allows it to be lowered so the user can sit, but being fiercely competitive, even with myself, I made it my mission to never. ever. lower the desk. My legs and feet protested their discomfort the first few weeks, but eventually they adapted. Purchasing an anti-fatigue mat to stand on helped immensely.
I’d like to take credit for the explosion in standing desks at my former office; and you know what, it’s my column so I think I will! Initially there were three testers, a vice president, a manager and regular ole me. By the time I left four years later, there were standing desks on every floor! It was funny because people would say, “Yeah, mine is different than yours, it can be lowered.” I’d reply, “Mine lowers too, I just never use that feature.”
Moving to a new job, I was anxious about returning to a sitting desk, but once again my medical history was advantageous as my doctor wrote a prescription for a standing desk that I gave my new employer. When the desk arrived, the installer noted that only one other employee used a standing desk. I’m hoping that will slowly change. As people stop by my office, or call on the video-phone, many have commented, “Oh, you have one of those standing desks, how do you like it?”
The only drawback to a standing desk for someone who is overly fashion conscious like me; high heels during the work week are pretty much a thing of the past. These days I only wear heels on days I have long meetings or extended training sessions where I know I’ll sit longer than I stand. Eight hours standing + five inch heels = major nightmare!
Maybe a standing desk is not for you, and that’s okay. There are other small changes that can improve overall health. For example, try taking the stairs instead of the elevator, even just one floor. Or what about parking in the back of the parking lot, instead of the front? If that’s too much too soon, how about moving just two rows further away from the door? Not up for a long walk? Try swimming or cycling, both are less stressful on the body. Love dancing? That’s exercise!!! Just please, get up and move!!
Your health is in your hands.
Until Next Time,
Becky J Miller