Thursday, May 14, 2015

Another Life Lesson Learned: We Can't Exercise Our Way Out of a Sedentary Lifestyle

We all have beliefs that we do not want to examine because the truth of the matter would impose making some changes in the way we live.  For me, it was the belief that I could simply train my way out of a bad diet.  When I was younger, I thought I could eat and drink whatever I wanted and as much as I pleased, and, until I was thirty-something, I was able to without gaining weight, without getting fatter. 

Then, I became a father and started to work in a office full-time.  Slowly, I began to gain weight steadily, nothing drastic, three or four pounds a year, the amount of weight we pack on at Christmas.  Twenty years later, I was obese, and I could no longer fool myself by thinking I had a carte blanche with regard to my food choices.  So, having researched the subject, I went on to change my diet.  Now, I am eating six to seven servings of fruit and vegetables daily, very little high-glycemic-index carbohydrates, and I drastically reduced my consumption of alcohol.

Related Post

Looking back, losing the first thirty pounds was relatively easy.  I cut back on calories and increased my amount of exercise and incidental activity.  Then, I hit the plateau and stayed there for about eight months.  Increasing the amount of exercise didn't work.  I couldn't cut back any further on food calories, but I could reduce liquid calories by going from 6-8 glasses of wine per week to just one or two.  So, I did.

That left one remaining big, fat elephant to deal with, the amount of time I spend sitting on my ass.

Think about.  On average, a person living the North American lifestyle sleeps seven hours, is behind the wheel for two, sits at his or her desk for seven, and then adds on another three hours of screen time in the evening.  That's 19 out of 24 hours a day.  Now, that's what I call a sedentary lifestyle.

Sleep is good, so we shouldn't cut back there. But what about the twelve hours sitting on our butts? 

Sitting, as we have been recently told, is the new smoking.  It is an easy way to take years off your life and put slabs of fat around your middle.  Watch this one minute explanation video of why sitting is bad for you.    

So what's to be done?

Simple.  Get off your ass and move.  Going to the gym three to four times a week doesn't do it because while you are sitting, your body stops burning fat as a fuel and starts stockpiling the glucose that your muscles or not using into your fat deposits.  In short, prolonged sitting negates the benefits of exercise.  In fact, in my case lifting weights combined with long bouts of sitting was a recipe for getting big and strong and fat! 

What good is it being big and strong if you develop Type II diabetes, or worse yet, get cancer or have a heart attack or a stroke, all of which have a greater likelihood if you lead a sedentary lifestyle, regardless whether you exercise regularly?

Fortunately, you can teach an old dog new tricks.  The first step for this Big Dog was to to increase his non-exercise physical activity, concentrating on the most natural movement known to man, walking.  That would explain the cross-Canada challenge of walking within one year the straight line distance from Halifax to Victoria.

The second step is to reduce the time sitting on my ass.  To that end, I now have a desk that rises and allows me to write while standing up.  No longer am I sitting seven hours a day at the office, and at home I simply place my laptop on top of a box that sits on a counter.  Indeed, this is my first blog that I have written while standing.

Like making any change in lifestyle, time will tell if the benefits pan out, and you know that I'll get back to you on that one.

One thing is for sure.  During the afternoon, my mind is more alert and I get more work done.

Hasta pronto.

No comments:

Post a Comment