Monday, September 2, 2013

The most terrifying article - am I an "active couch potato"?!

First of all, Happy Labor Day!!  I spent the day eating fairly unhealthy food, irrationally contemplating doing a juice cleanse to make up for it (doesn't make sense, I know), and then deciding to run on the treadmill instead (it was 97 degrees outside afterall).

While I was eating the aforementioned unhealthy food, I was attempting to drum up the necessary motivation for a run by finally reading the August Runner's World.  What I did not expect was one of the most terrifying article I've ever read in any magazine (perhaps only second to the life altering article about box jelly fish that ran in Ranger Rick circa 1994).
You should DEFINITELY read the entire article online here
According to this article, the amount of time that the average american spends sitting is extremely harmful to your health, regardless of your fitness regimen.  In fact, the article compared it to smoking!!
For example, one study cited in the article found that all this sitting drastically increased women's risk for developing diabetes!  Unfortunately (and not uncommonly), my job requires many hours sitting behind a desk and working on a computer.  This concept is simply terrifying.  How can we change this?!!?!!  
However, there was some good news!

At that point, I became desperate for strategies to avoid the harmful effects of my excessive sitting/inactivity.   So, here are a few of my favorite strategies that I found:
  1. Set an alarm to prompt you to stand up and stretch every 20-30 minutes.  You can use this time to get up and re-fill your water bottle, do a 30 second wall-sit, or a 1-minute plank.  I'm going to try out an app for my iPhone, StandApp (review here).  StandApp not only reminds you to standup throughout the day, but it also suggests stretches or exercises 
  2. Invest in a pedometer and aim for 5,000 steps (outside of your run)
  3. Replace your chair with a stability ball.  According to this article, I'd need a 65 cm stability ball to serve as my chair.  You could even try this Balance Ball Chair by Gaiam.  
  4. Invest in an under the desk stair-steppers, cycles, or elliptical machines
  5. Stand up while on conference calls or reading documents
  6. Wiggle your toes, jiggle your legs, shift in your chair
My goal this week is to begin to build a habit of being more active throughout the work day.  I've already set up StandApp for work tomorrow and purchased an exercise ball.  I'm going to use the exercise ball for blogging and watching tv at home.  I'm also considering purchasing a fitbit flex.

Do you think I'm over-reacting about the adverse health effects of sitting all day?

Do you employ other strategies to keep yourself active during the work day?

Do you use an activity monitor, i.e., fitbit flex, jawbone up, or nike fuel band?


  1. Great tips! I read that article as well and it was an eyeopener. I have an office job as well and try to make sure I get up every 20 minutes and just walk around, grab some water, etc. Also, I used to come home and plop on the couch in the evening, but now I try to do things like checking email, blogging, etc. while standing at my counter instead. Thanks for sharing your tips! If you end up using the fitbit or jawbone or fuel band let me know what you think. I am curious about them and think it could be interesting!

    1. So, for the last week I've been using the StandApp on my iPhone and I did decide to purchase a Fitbit.

      The StandApp is really great to remind me every hour to get up for a few minutes and it even gives you suggested office-appropriate exercises (e.g., wall sits) or stretches.

      The jury is still out on the fitbit. Currently, I take the fitbit off for my runs, but I have it on the rest of the day. I read on one website to try to achieve 5000 steps outside of your workout, so I've been doing that. It is also cool because it links to several other apps on my phone including MyFitnessPal and RunKeeper. I think just having it on my wrist is an excellent reminder to get up and move every once in awhile.

  2. Hi Alaina! Just found your blog, great stuff! I just got a fitbit flex and have found it very useful in reminding me to take breaks from sitting at the computer, even if it's just a lap around my floor, or going to a different floor to refill on coffee/water. Not life altering, but I think of it as a toy that only does positive things in my life.

    Miss you! When are you coming back to Chicago??

    1. Leah!!!!!

      I feel the exact same way about my fitbit flex.

      I'll be in Chicago later this month and then again for the Chicago Marathon (for which I'm totally have not trained enough). My clerkship ends next August, so I'll be in town permanently (finely) sometime after that!! We really need to figure out a time to meetup one of the times I'm in town!!