I’ve never been one for sitting around too much (I struggle to sit still at the best of times), but I do have a sedentary, desk based job. I do a fair amount (ok, quite a lot) of exercise, but more often than not, I’m sat at my desk or in meetings the rest of the time, where I really don’t move a lot.
The problem with this is that humans were designed to move around, more or less constantly. Recent studies have found that spending most of our time sitting, be it in front of the TV, behind the wheel of a car or at a desk can significantly increase our chances of cardiac issues, metabolic syndrome and cancer. Not to mention the fact that burning fewer calories can propel us towards being featured as one of those massive tracksuit clad arses waddling along the street that the BBC always use on stories about obesity.
The bad news is that the evidence suggests that even frequent exercise can’t offset the amount of sitting we do, we simply need to move more, more of the time.
Last year I invested in a Fitbit, mainly because a lot of my colleagues had them and were constantly talking about their step targets. In the past, work has run pedometer challenges (where they’ve given out free cheapo pedometers and over the course of the month, the team who accumulates the most steps wins an amazing prize – like some branded pants or similar) and being
slightly massively competitive, I’d always managed to move a lot more during that particular month. Fitbit could give me the same challenge all year round – a bit of healthy competition with my colleagues and friends, plus the opportunity to get involved with online communities too for more potential ass-whipping support.
What I like about Fitbit is that it does encourage more frequent movement. Sure, I clock up more steps when I go for a run or to the gym, but sometimes fewer than you think. To maximise my step count, I’ve started parking further away, using the stairs (I work on the 3rd floor) and (on a really slow day) jogging up and down on the spot for an extensive period in the evening.
Fitbit gives you a target of 10000 steps a day, which seems to be generally recognised as a good amount to aim for for health. In the past I’ve had quieter days, and sometimes the further I am from my target, the less likely I am to try and reach it (sounds a bit like my approach to my diet!). So, my habit for March is to get a minimum of 10000 steps every single day. Like so much in life I think this will come to down to planning – for example I’m going to be at an offsite meeting next week with minimal opportunities to get steps, so I shall arrive early and go for a walk before we start, hopefully getting the bulk of them done early.
But for the most part, I will aim to build these into my everyday life – going to see people rather than emailing them, walking to get a pint of milk and basically making life a little less convenient.