Many health authorities have warned about the health risks of physical inactivity?
People who are unfit and engage in little physical activity have a 30-50% greater risk of developing high blood pressure, stroke and have shorter life span.
Surveys in the US show that only 22% of adults get enough leisure-time exercise to achieve the desired level of heart and circulation fitness.
However, there is growing evidence that sitting down for two or three hours at work or at home watching television or using computers is also a major health risk.
A major study over more than eight years found the following correlation between the average number of TV watched per day and the increased risk of mortality:
► 1-2 hours TV watched per day 4%
► 3-4 hours TV watched per day 14%
► 5-6 hours TV watched per day 31%
► 7 or more hours TV watched per day 61%
Many people site at their computers at home for long periods as well. Similarly, many people at work, may sit at their desks for at least 3 hours in the morning and again in the afternoon, perhaps also sitting down during their lunch breaks.
This article explores how to reduce the periods of sitting down and being inactive at work and home and how to get some exercise while seated.
► It helps if you can increase your activity getting to and from work and also at lunchtime.
► Try to get up and walk around for 5 minutes or so every hour.
► Take a resistance band unit to work and go to a quiet place every two hours or so to get some exercise
► Choose a coffee shop further away from your office so you have to walk further and briskly.
► Go for a brisk walk or jog for at least 15 minutes during your lunch break. 15 to 20 minutes.
► Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
► Go and talk with colleagues in person, rather than sending an email.
► Stand during phone calls, or use a 'stand-up' desk.
► Try some of the exercises that can be done sitting at your desk.
► Use a gym ball as a desk chair to encourage movement.
There are a number of compact treadmills and other exercise units which you can use to exercise while sitting at work or at home. Various elliptical devices have an action like peddling to get some exercise. However, there has been little research on their effectiveness and how much exercise people get with these devices.
An Australian study looked at the effectiveness of compact elliptical exercise devices when supplied to 32 physically inactive subjects aged from 25-65 years.
The subject installed the device under their desks at work. Monitors attached to the device recorded the frequency and duration of use of the elliptical device.
The energy expended was also calculated, as well as heart rate and other biometrics.
The subjects were interviewed to assess their interest in using the device at work and also potentially at home watching television, using a computer, reading and at other times.
The results of the study were:
► The median energy consumption rate while using the device was 100-270 kilocalories per hour, which was about double the rate when sitting down. The median energy consumption rate was about 190 kilocalories per hour/ This is almost equivalent to riding a bike or walking slowly and is significant as a form of exercise. See the table below for the calorie expenditure for various types of activities. The expenditure for the compact elliptical device are highlighted in the table(bold).
► After using the device for several weeks, the subjects expressed high interest in using the elliptical device while watching TV at home or while doing computer work.
► There was low interest in using the device during office meetings.
► Women showed greater interest in using the elliptical device than men
► About 90% of the subjects used the equipment at a high enough setting, and for long enough, for the activity to be significant in increasing fitness and potentially for weight loss.
The conclusion from the study was that the compact elliptical devices and similar equipment could provide beneficial increases in physical activity.
Use of the device and similar equipment could lower the risks of prolonged inactivity while sitting down and may encourage people to be more active.
|Lying down, sleeping||66||276|
|Median Elliptical trainer rate||190||795|
|Raking leaves, gardening||225||941|
|Bicycling (5.5 mph)||261||1092|
|Fast Elliptical Trainer Rate||269||1125|
|Walking, normal pace, asphalt road||324||1356|
|Walking, normal pace, fields and hills||333||1393|
|Weight training, free weights||351||1469|
|Weight training, circuit training||378||1582|
|Bicycling (9.5 mph)||405||1695|
|Dance, Aerobic, medium||414||1732|
|Mowing the lawn||459||1920|
|Climbing hills (no load)||495||2071|
|Climbing hills (with 9 lb. load)||522||2184|
|Swimming, crawl, slow||522||2184|
|Dance, Aerobic, intense||549||2297|
|Climbing hills (with 22 lb. load)||576||2410|
|Skiing, cross-country, walking||585||2448|
|Swimming, crawl, fast||639||2674|
|Jumping Rope (70 jumps per minute)||666||2787|
|Swimming, breast stroke, fast||666||2787|
|Snowshoeing, soft snow||675||2824|
|Jumping Rope (125 jumps per minute)||720||3012|
|Running (9-minute mile)||783||3276|
|Jumping Rope (145 jumps per minute)||801||3351|
|Running (8-minute mile)||855||3577|
|Running (6-minute mile)||1035||4330|
|Skiing, cross-country, uphill||1125||4707|