Updated: Mar 25, 2022
One of my favorite “stupid” questions to ask is this:
What do you have to do to get out of shape?
After a few moments of silence, I answer the question:
You do nothing.
It’s really that simple. If you just do nothing, don’t care what you eat, don’t go out of your way to do any extra work, just do nothing, you will be actively decreasing your overall health.
A fancy word for this is Deconditioning. When you do nothing to keep fit and healthy you are deconditioning your body. Deconditioning causes decreased strength, decreased endurance, decreased flexibility, decreased cardiovascular fitness, decreased proprioception (awareness of position sense and kinesthesia).
Adults spend most of their waking hours either sitting or some kind of easy movement (i.e. standing with light movements). For most people they are sitting 70%-80% of the day, this includes; desk work, couch/chair in from of TV, computer/video games, sitting while driving. Living a life that does not force your body to put in some effort multiple times throughout the day place you at risk of many chronic diseases, like cardiovascular diseases.
What makes it even worse is the idea that doing a lot at one point during the day makes up for the 8-10 hours of sitting. For example:
The Active Couch Potato phenomenon.
This is an office worker who jogs or bikes to and from work, but they will then sit all day in an office, and spend the evening watching TV. This person still spends the majority of their day sitting. Long unbroken periods of muscle unloading along with prolonged sitting time equals an inactivity physiology. This loss of periodic muscle contraction throughout the day can lead to insulin resistance, and reduced glucose uptake.
Working out once a day is not bad, it is better than nothing, but it is not enough. One needs to be active throughout the day. Find ways to move more throughout the day. If you stop every 45 minutes to and hour to take only 5 minutes to do some form of exercise you will increase your chance of avoiding Deconditioning.
Studies also show that inactivity and excess sitting is linked to 100,000 cancer cases a year. The link is not dependent on body weight or the level of activity done. The sitting time was linked with death risk, regardless of the amount of physical activity. In other words those who sit all day and then run five miles everyday after work are not combating the prolonged hours of sitting. Studies have shown that people who exercise and stay active throughout the day have 30%-35% risk reduction in colon cancer, and 20%-30% risk reduction in breast cancer. These same studies estimated that about 43,000 colon cancers and 49,000 breast cancers might have been avoided in 2011 if these people simple were more active everyday throughout their life.
Another large study found the likelihood of dying during a 14 year follow-up was higher in those who spent 6 or more hours a day sitting, compared to those who spent less than 3 hours. It is not just how much physical activity you get, but how much time you spend sitting that can affect you risk of death. Sitting is independently associated with total mortality, regardless of your physical activity level.
Deconditioning can lead to many serious health risks. Here is a list of things that have been associated with deconditioning:
High Blood Pressure
High Blood Sugar
Decreased Bone Density
Decreased Tendon Stiffness
Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Increased Risk of Diabetes Type II
Decreased Exercise Capacity
Increased Risk of Cancer
I think it is safe to say that we should all be moving more. I remember a story my dad told me once. He was in the airport waiting to get on a plane to Ohio. He was headed to the Arnold Sports Festival (or Arnold Classic), he was waiting at the gate and noticed he was sitting across from the legend Jack LeLanne. My dad introduce himself and they had a short conversation after which my dad returned to his seat. After he had found his seat an announcement came over the intercom at the gate that announced the place would be 30 minutes late. As soon as the announcement was over Jack LeLanne stood up and shouted: “Alright everyone, let’s do some jumping jacks!”
This is the exact mentality we should have. We do not need to do jumping jacks at every break we have, but we should be consciously thinking about what we can do instead of checking our phones and social media accounts during down time. We should be walking around, doing a few squats, push ups, burpees, squat thrusts, a quick 3 minute Jiu Jitsu roll with a buddy….I think you get the idea.
Get up and get moving.
With that, I am going to go do some burpees and push ups, what you are going to do?