Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Don't sit to exercise! or, Seated machines should be banned!

(Warning, this blog post contains my rant of the week.)

Picture this: Your day begins as you swing your legs out of bed, hit the shower and make breakfast. You then, walk outside to your car to drive your regular 20 to 30 minute commute to work. Once at work, you walk about 2 minutes to get in the door of your office and sit yourself down at your desk to begin your work day.

For the next 4 hours, you sit with little movement other than to fill up your coffee mug and visit the bathroom. During lunch, you either get up to get your meal from the lunch room and eat it seated at the lunch tables or your desk. Then, you continue to sit for the next 4 to 5 hours until your work day is over.

Once your day is done, you get back in your car, and drive yourself to the gym. After changing into your workout clothes, you walk to the cardio equipment and sit down on one of the bikes to peddle your heart rate up for about 10 minutes. You then head to the weight machines and sit down to perform seated hamstring curls, seated shoulder press, seated ab crunches, seated lat pulldowns and whatever other seated machine you can figure out how to use.

After this vigorous workout, you change and drive yourself home. At home, you quickly throw together a meal for dinner and then eat it either sitting in front of your T.V. or your computer. Besides taking a shower, you continue in this seated position until it's time to lay yourself down to bed.

Notice anything repetative in this usual day? Well, what I was trying to point out was that this "demonstrative" person sits for more hours a day than they actually move their body in an upright position. And, what's even more frustrating, is that this is how 80% of our population lives their lives everyday!

We've got to stop this seated madness! Sitting all day long (even at the gym!) is one of the main reasons people struggle with thier body weight and have increased skeletal-muscular issues! But, it doesn't have to be like this!!

Yes, I understand that many of us can't change the fact that we have a desk job, where the majority of our working time is spent sitting. But, we don't have to exasperate this problem by mimicking the rest of our day in this same position!

To start: STEP AWAY FROM THE SEATED EXERCISE MACHINES!!!! If I had it my way, those things would be completely banned from any exercise facility. You DON'T need to sit to exercise your hamstrings, shoulders, chest, etc. All of these same movements that you see locked into a machine can be performed in a supine, prone or standing position with dumbbells, bars, bands and balls! For example, if you're doing the lat pulldown exercise, why not stand while performing the motion? This way you activate your glutes, abs, and legs to keep you from being pulled up and you have to work harder to pull the weight down since your knees aren't locked under a knee-pad. Trust me, I do this everytime I lift and wouldn't sit down if you paid me to do so.... If you feel uncomfortable doing any of these exercise, enlist the help of a reputable certified personal trainer or learn from the many excellent books and websites on the topic.

Next: Increase upright activity in your daily routine as much as possible. For example, if you can't ride a bike to work, or even walk, start your day a bit earlier with exercise around your house or neighborhood. Even something as simple as starting your morning with a 15 minute walk is better than no exercise at all!

Then, at lunch, skip your eating time and replace it with a walk around the block. If you don't have a block to walk around, then walk the stairs for 15 minutes (your building has those, I promise).

After your evening workout, spend less time sitting. Yes, you should sit to spend time with your family at the dinner table, but afterwards, spend it doing things that can require you to stand, like sweeping the house, doing laundry, folding laundry, pulling weeds from your flower bed, etc. Anything but spending more time seated is the most ideal situation.

I've become very passionate about this anti-sitting crusade because for my dietetic internship I have to sit at a desk for 8 hours a day. So, during my day, I get up as much as possible to fill up my stainless steel water bottle, tea mug or visit the bathroom. I also take a walking break to cruise the block before lunch, at lunch and before my day is done. In the mornings, I start my day earlier so that I can either get to the gym (no seated exercises), do a bootcamp class at the track, run stadiums at the track, or do exercises in my bedroom. After work, I workout again, doing either a workout at the gym, track, or at the local yoga studio (the pilates V-pose is one of my challenges to master!).

Overall, I've learned that even with an 8-hour desk job, your life does not have to be completely seated. There are so many things you can do to get away from this detrimental lifestyle; it only takes a few modifications, but you can do it and you'll feel better (and look better) because of it.

Now go forth and be upright like nature intended you to be!!!


Roland said...

This is an excellent rant. Thank you.

On the subject of your own sitting, have you considered a stand up desk for work?

Jonathan Fass said...

Love it. Of course, the real answer is that we both need to quit all of this foolish schooling and edumucationz so that we don't have to sit in class anymore!

Cassandra Forsythe said...

Thanks Roland! I'm working on getting the SUD in this week! :) No one wanted it but me!

SG Human Performance said...

Love your post! You don't know how many people I see for orthopaedic injuries and the main thing I have to do is to get them to fire their glutes. Basically all of them are sitting their butts to sleep. Keep up the good work!