Why do you exercise?
Chances are, if you’re reading this you have an interest in exercise or being physically active. Those chances are even higher that you’re a runner of some description. It follows then, that you like to partake in a schedule or routine of taking time out of your day to go for a run or complete some other form of organised physical exercise. Maybe it’s CrossFit or yoga, or pilates or a mountain bike ride. But, why do you do it?
Organised exercise is to movement what nutritional supplements are to food. A supplement, not a replacement. There is little point drinking kombucha, if you are using to wash down a Big Mac. In the same way, your daily exercise session is not particularly healthful if you spend the rest of your day highly inactive. It’s not a panacea.
A daily exercise session does very little to mitigate the harmful effect of sitting. That means that even if you get up early and crush a 60min Run, or a CrossFit class, if you then go to work and primarily remain stationary from nine to five, then you’re not much better off than your colleague who doesn’t exercise at all.
The light in all of these startling observations is that there certainly is a way to minimise the effects of a sedentary job or lifestyle. It’s really quite simple: move often.
Movement is fundamental to life. Without movement, there is no life. When we consider this in its simplicity, the science mentioned above starts to make sense. So then, we must apply movement to our days, more consistently and constantly than an intense bout of it before or after work. This can be as simple as standing up from your chair to stretch for 30-60 seconds every half hour. It might be the occasional stroll around the office, or setting yourself a rule of always taking the stairs. Maybe you want to be a little more regimented and set yourself a short (2-3 minute) routine of full body exercises that are easy to achieve each hour or two at work (squats, downward dogs, push ups, etc). We’ve all seen the range of motion exercises suggested for use on long-haul flights. Whatever you choose to do will depend upon the freedom you have in your workspace or wherever you spend your time, but there’s really no excuse for not simply standing up out of your chair regularly.
When you realise that the supply of nutrients to the brain is heavily reliant upon the pumping of spinal fluid up from the spine, and this process is dependent upon movement of the spine itself, it becomes easier to understand why constantly moving is so essential. So, don’t stop working hard morning and night at your organised training sessions. Just know that it’s not a panacea. Be sure to prioritise consistent bodily movement throughout your entire day. Your future-self will love you for it.
If you’re struggling for new and varied ideas for incorporating more movement in your day, check out The 10-Minute Mobility Guide.
Aviroop Biswas, Paul I. Oh, Guy E. Faulkner, Ravi R. Bajaj, Michael A. Silver, Marc S. Mitchell, and David A. Alter. Sedentary Time and Its Association With Risk for Disease Incidence, Mortality, and Hospitalization in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2015 DOI: 10.7326/M14-1651
Article by Tim Leeming. Exercise Nutritionist.