Our modern lifestyle competes with one of the most basic requirements of the human body, movement. These days we drive a little bit more, we’re forced to sit and work a little bit more, and we’re just not as active day-to-day as we used to be. We then try to reconcile this behavior by exercising and being active when we have a chance. Even with daily exercise, if the rest of your day is spent being inactive, you are at risk for the side effects related to a sedentary lifestyle. Down to a cellular level, humans need to have mechanical input for the body to function correctly.
“Make your environment fit you instead of making yourself fit the environment.”
Side Effects of a Sedentary Lifestyle
Movement is key to a healthy, capable body. When your body stays active, it’s able to handle loads, digest them, and have a positive adaptation to training. On the other hand, it’s very difficult for the body to go from sedentary to then exposed to exercise and high intensity loads, and then go back to being sedentary. If tendons, ligaments, tissues, and bones aren’t being consistently loaded, those systems become fragile and less capable. You can’t turn the systems off and then expect to go out and PR. Inactivity after a workout causes tissues to become congested and stiff. Loading tissues through movement is one of the best behaviors to make the most robust and ready human beings. It keeps the tissues healthy and allows you to feel better.
Say goodbye to your sedentary environment with these simple steps from Kelly Starrett, founder of The Ready State.
How to Overcome a Sedentary Environment
Sometimes we have no choice in how our environment is set up. Cultural or social cues may tell us that we need to sit down, or at work we may not be provided with a desk that allows for standing or movement. However, there are some simple steps you can take to get in more movement throughout the day.
#1 At Work
We spend a lot of time at work each week, but this shouldn’t hold us back from leading a more active lifestyle. Ideally, every work station would have a sit/stand desk for each employee. This makes it easier to stay active and switch positions throughout the day. If your company has yet to provide this, don’t worry, there are other ways to get your body moving.
Standing Desk: Ditching the chair is a great way to add in more movement. Make sure you’re not just standing during the day though, the goal is to move more. Grab a stool and rest your foot, lean up against it, or bring your leg up into pigeon stretch. There are many options to keep your body moving and as Kelly Starrett says, “it’s not a standing work station until you have a place to put your foot”.
Floor Desk: Standing desks get all the attention, but floor desks are becoming popular too. If you’re working from home or have the opportunity to sit on the ground, by all means do so. You can use a desk like the one from Varidesk, or you can grab some pillows and books to make your own. This option is a great way to take joints and tissues through a full range of motion, and ultimately improve them.
Sitting Desk: When you do find yourself in a chair, there are a couple things you can do to get more active. First, try sitting towards the edge of the chair. Let yourself slouch, sit tall, take a deep breath, move your legs around, and just fidget around while making sure your trunk is engaged.
#2 Walk More
Walking is great for two reasons. One, incorporating low grade movement will load tissues and decongest the system. This will keep your body healthy and tissues active. Two, by walking the recommended number of steps each day you can accumulate enough fatigue to wear yourself out, which will lead to better sleep. Kelly Starrett recommends more walking before anything else to elite military groups who have a hard time sleeping. The recommended number of steps you should take each day ranges from 6,000 to 15,000. If you’re an older person, the goal is closer to 6,000. For younger, more active people, try for closer to 10,000-15,000.
#3 Marc Pro
The heart and soul of Marc Pro is movement, which allows you to decongest tissues when you find yourself in positions and times when you can’t move as much as you would like. If you’re an athlete or person who fancies themselves as active and goes from a long commute or board meeting to getting ready for that triathlon or CrossFit workout, remember that the goal is to have healthy decongested tissues and the best way to do that is to move.
The bottom line is active recovery is always best. Vary your positions throughout the day and keep your body active in any way you can.