Couch Potato or Desk Potato?

Many of us active, able-bodied athletes would never dream of classifying ourselves as couch potatoes (except for the occasional Sunday when you totally binge watch Parks and Rec) and yet how many of us sit at a desk for eight hours a day? Explain to me how sitting at a desk and staring at your computer screen is any different than sitting on the couch and staring at Walter White crushing Breaking Bad? The fact is we are a vastly sedentary society and unless you are a nurse, waitress, or CrossFit coach you are most likely sitting too long.

Exercise researchers David Dunsten and Michael Jensen found that inactivity (sitting at your computer or TV) is bad for your health EVEN if you exercise everyday. I don't think I am alone when I say that many of us just assume that if we get our workout in everyday we are free and clear. Think about it this way: If you smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, does running for an hour and exercising your lungs cancel it out? Yeah, not so much. The same goes for sitting. Even if you workout five days a week (which you should of course) that's only one hour (or 4%!!) out of the 24 hours in the day that you are actively moving.  

In another study done by Alpa Patel in 2010, researchers compared mortality rates of people who sat for six hours or more to those that sat less than three hours (taking into account other factors like diet) and found that extra time spent sitting was correlated to a 34% higher mortality rate for women and a 17% higher rate for men in the 14 years post study. Holy moly that freaks me out! SO what do we do?

A general consensus so far amongst researchers is to move for two to five minutes every hour and they have even shown this break does NOT decrease work productivity. I've laid out some simple and time efficient MOD exercises below that can be done at your desk, the kitchen table, your boss's office when he's out to lunch, or even the copy room.

LATERAL LEG SWINGS

Face a support, such as your chair or desk. Swing one leg out to the side and then across your body, all the while increasing the range of motion. Complete 15-30 reps before switching legs. 

STRIDE STRETCH

  From a stride stance, lift your back heel off the ground; dip hips back and work the heel to the ground, keeping a straight knee. Hold here for 30 seconds to two minutes before switching legs. Feel free to use your desk or chair for stability and leverage. 

 

From a stride stance, lift your back heel off the ground; dip hips back and work the heel to the ground, keeping a straight knee. Hold here for 30 seconds to two minutes before switching legs. Feel free to use your desk or chair for stability and leverage. 

PEC STRETCH

  Hold one arm to the side with your elbow slightly above shoulder height. Press your hand into a vertical surface (an office doorway is perfect here). Twist away from the arm. Hold here for 45 seconds to two minutes before switching sides. 

 

Hold one arm to the side with your elbow slightly above shoulder height. Press your hand into a vertical surface (an office doorway is perfect here). Twist away from the arm. Hold here for 45 seconds to two minutes before switching sides. 

INVERTED N

  Stand with feet hip-width apart and bend at your waist. Reach your arms behind you and clasp your hands together. Let gravity pull your hands towards the ground and over your head. If possible, try to keep your palms together. Repeat this stretch two times, holding for 15 seconds to one minute each time. 

 

Stand with feet hip-width apart and bend at your waist. Reach your arms behind you and clasp your hands together. Let gravity pull your hands towards the ground and over your head. If possible, try to keep your palms together. Repeat this stretch two times, holding for 15 seconds to one minute each time. 

All together, this series can be done in anywhere from three to six minutes depending on how long you hold the exercises. Other things that can help are drinking enough water that you are forced to get up and use the restroom every 60-90 minutes, getting a standing desk, walking up and down a flight of stairs, doing some jumping jacks, and one of my favorites: handstand walking to the water-cooler. I only picked out four but there are at least 10-15 more MOD cards in your deck that can easily be done in your office. So what do you say, are you going to continue being an active desk potato or are you gonna get those limbs moving and quite literally prolong your life? I have now been typing for a little over an hour so in holding strong to my new found knowledge, I'm out!