Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Truth About Sitting Down

This was published by, which in itself is fascinating to me. It's a website where you can find out about careers in medical billing and coding, and they publish some cool infographics. Is that just as it seems, infographics as eye candy to lure you into to a rewarding career in medical billing and coding?

[ETA 5/25/13: The plot thickens, I received an email asking to remove my link to their site. What is that all about.]

Here's my take on the truth about sitting down: 1) Modern humans sit a lot, though by "modern humans" I mean that more people work in offices than in olden times and when you work in an office, you mostly sit and 1a) not everybody nowadays works in an office, Biggie who posed for my movement and muscles series is a hairdresser and is on her feet all day, which creates its own postural imbalances, and so not to be hyperobvious but 1b) there's nothing wrong with sitting per se and sitting itself isn't going to kill you, I don't want you to think that every single time you sit adds to your RealAge or anything like that. It's about the balance between sitting and moving around, sitting unbalanced is the problem. I know, people exaggerate to make a point and that's what they meant and in fact that's what they say in the above infographic. I worry though that people aren't going read the small print under the specter of death; but if I think that, why am I writing this.


2) The key datum, I think, is that sitting for more than 6 hours per day makes you 40% more likely to die within 15 years than somebody who sits for less than 3 hours, and I think the cheap shot is 2a) even if you exercise! Because 2b) if you look at the actual studies that this infographic is based on, your recommended 150 minutes per week of exercise does reduce your likelihood of an early death; it just doesn't cancel it entirely. Why would you give the impression that exercise is futile for the sake of a little drama, argh, for the love of god 2c) keep up the good work, not the least because 2d) if you're exercising or otherwise physically active outside of work, that leaves less time for sitting as a pastime.

3) I'm skipping over the panels about the terrible effects of sitting, already sold.

What I'm interested in is, what is to be done. Which to my mind will take a two-pronged approach:

4a) see about getting at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week per the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans

Which for me is three key and two recovery workouts per week, that's eight hours per week by the way. More than seven hours of exercise per week is the threshold for athletic or performance training, you can refresh yourself on the phases of training here. If you're training for fitness, you're doing between three and five moderate intensity workouts per week.

4b) see what you can do about breaking that six hours down to something, if not less than, closer to three hours of sitting per day

A modest proposal: our old friend, the pomodoro. You could do a lot worse than to set your pomodoro and work for 25 minutes, stand up and stretch for 5 minutes, repeat three more times, and then take a 15 minute walk or other exercise break. Repeat two times if you're non-exempt and three times if you're exempt, haha.

So yeah, my athletic friends who work in offices, I'm always exhorting you to recover and rest for pete's sake, but go ahead and do this off the books. Definitely do it, and definitely keep it light. I was feeling hypocritical about my little kettlebell workout, but it really is a little workout; it really is this, what Box calls an exercise snack. This goes for everybody, these are just little exercises and not even close to an ass-kicking workout. That's not what they're for, they're just to get you out of your chair and moving around. Little workouts are my favorite thing, I'm super happy to have a justification for them and will be posting more of them soon.