After two weeks of putting it off, I finally got myself back to the gym. I worked out hard and left feeling accomplished, energized. I felt like I'd finally arrived, living, into that holistic, active lifestyle. Instead of driving home, maybe I'd just carry my car, return the favor. The next morning, however, I was not excited to see my body hadn’t changed at all. I still looked the same. I thought I was living an active, holistic lifestyle, what gives?!
Do you even holistic, active lifestyle bro?
For some answers I decided to do a little digging. It turns out, living a holistic, active lifestyle doesn’t mean going to the gym once and calling it a week—in fact, it doesn’t have to mean going to the gym at all. Living a holistically active lifestyle means living more purposefully and incorporating more movement and activity into things you’re already doing, which is important to those of us at Fully, and is especially important for the 86% of American workers who work full-time and are required to sit all day.
As someone who used to sit for up to ten hours a day, I speak from experience when I say after sitting that long, for month after month, your body starts to ache in ways you’ve never before experienced. While desk jobs have become just as much the backbone of the American workforce as manual labor jobs, all the excessive inert sitting is taking a serious toll on our health. “Our bodies are breaking down from a variety of side effects and the cascade of health ills and everyday malaise that come from what scientists have named sitting disease.” says Mayo Clinic endocrinologist James Levine. In short, Levine calls sitting “the new smoking.”
You’re probably familiar with this term, it’s been bandied about quite a lot. It was supposed to be the new cure-all to everything that ails you. Just stand at your desk, all your problems will be solved!
Thankfully, this discussion has evolved a lot. After we traded our sit-only workday for stand-only workdays we found ourselves right in the same place we started. Same fatigue, same aches and pains, just in different spots. Eventually we moved beyond simply demonizing sitting as the culprit to our problems and discovered that mixing it up with sitting and standing, with an emphasis on movement and even walking could be the key to a holistic, active lifestyle.
Out with ‘Sitting Disease’ In With ‘Mixing It Up’
At least, the movement behind combating “sitting disease” had the right idea: integrating a modest increase of movement and activity in our daily routine could make an incredible difference. Sitting is not evil, but you’re more inclined to movement when you’re up and standing, or just thinking differently about the things you’re already doing that could use a little kick in the pants.
The goal here is to kill two activities at once. Discovering activity and movement where you’re already at is a goldmine, especially when you can’t find time to exercise otherwise. You’ve got the meeting scheduled, if you’re just hashing out broad strokes, (read: you don’t need to take notes or perform surgery) why not take a good walk instead of just sitting on your duff?
In the timeless words of Uncle Rico
"You might as well do something while you're doing nothing."
That also means taking the stairs instead of the elevator, biking to work instead of driving. But when you feel like sitting, by all means, sit. You can even take advantage of active sitting options to incorporate more movement into your workspace.
As Dr. Levine points out, ‘by replacing just two and a half hours of sitting with standing each day, it could “help employees burn up to 350 additional calories per day, reduce their health care costs and perform better at work.”
Of course, if you have time to spare, you could look into taking up more active hobbies. But not everyone has that time to spare or the money to spend on new equipment to get started with that bike commuting life. This is why I love Fully's idea to get their staff moving early, with morning workouts by a local trainer, The Art of Personal Training. Getting your employer to schedule a personal trainer is a great way to get the office active, and group fitness classes are just one of the many ways a company can encourage their employees to break into that holistic active lifestyle—while also alleviating the financial strain on individual employees. After all, a healthier lifestyle shouldn’t come with a hefty price tag.
The profound impact of movement
One important thing to remember, according to Levine, is that the impact of even leisurely movement in your workday. It can be “profound.” He notes, “The muscle activity needed for standing and other movement seems to trigger important processes related to the breakdown of fats and sugars within the body. When you're standing or actively moving, you kick the processes back into action.” When you’re thinking about how your body feels and staying in tune with ways to help yourself work better and more comfortably, you can combat the negative associations with the stasis of the office.
I know, resolving to invest more in my health isn’t going to be a cure-all. Staying active is hard work, that’s why exercise is called exercise. So I’ve stopped expecting immediate results. Rome wasn’t built in a day, after all. It is so helpful, however, to have these movement inspiring options available and supported at work, where I spend the bulk of my day. When a company invests in their employee’s health—whether it’s by incorporating standing desks, catering healthy lunches, or setting up group fitness outings—the employees are not only more likely to live healthier lifestyles on their own time, they’re also likely to be more engaged in the work they’re doing while on the clock.
If you find your boss is skeptical about incorporating more movement into your office, or wherever you may work, try translating these findings into boss-talk: ‘Synergy of our team's environment with an out-of-the-box approach to wellness unpacks a mindshare that could only be described as, win-win.’