Some people don't use soap. Other people eschew alarm clocks or cooking utensils. Over on the Obesity Panacea blog, Peter Janiszewski recently decided to give up the 21st century sedentary lifestyle.
That may not seem like a big deal, especially to those of us who exercise regularly, enjoy going for walks, and are, generally, not complete couch-potatoes. But, Janiszewski, who has a PhD in clinical exercise physiology, says that recent research is showing that even someone who visits the gym every day can still be living a sedentary life, especially if their job requires them to sit at a desk for hours every day. If you spend most of the day seated, he says, you could still end up with some negative health impacts, even if you do exercise in the morning. That describes me pretty well. And it described Janiszewski, too.
What did I do?
Essentially, I decided (completely arbitrarily) that I would do mini exercise breaks throughout my workday, with the daily goal of reaching 450 repetitions of whatever random movement popped into my head at each break.
When I first started - some 3 weeks ago now, I would do 3 different exercises per break for 30 repetitions per exercise. I would thus need to have 5 mini exercise breaks throughout the day to get to 450 total repetitions.
My 'equipment' consists of a floor mat, a 10lb medicine ball, 2 10 L plastic water jugs, stairs, and a lot of randomness. If nothing else, this new approach has certainly made me more creative with my exercises. My only rule thus far is that I never do the same exercise more than once on a given day - which means I need at least 15 different exercises. Also, I try and balance with a 1:1:1 ratio exercises that focus on upperbody: core: lower body, though I aim for full-body movements when possible.
Janiszewski hasn't been at this experiment for very long, but he says he'll be posting updates. In the meantime, you can read the five-part series his blogging partner Travis Saunders wrote about the health impacts of sedentary lifestyles:
•Part 1: Not just the lack of physical activity
•Part 2: Can sitting too much kill you?
•Part 3: The importance of interruptions in sedentary time
•Part 4: How does sitting increase health risk?
•Part 5: Future directions
Mark also recently posted about a different article Travis Saunders wrote on this same subject.
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.