Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Sitting is the new smoking.

I've been hearing about this for a while now but I'm good at ignoring stuff that I don't want to hear. I'm comfortable sticking my head in the sand. Especially when it means that I won't have to change what I'm doing.

Unfortunately the article in Runner's World was one that I couldn't ignore. I wanted to believe that my few hours of running every week was enough to allow me to sit on my butt for the rest of the day. But the article was quite clear - don't think that exercising for an hour or so a day will wipe out the negative effects of sitting down for all those other hours.

I have a very sedentary job. I sit and sew or cut out fabric all day. A few years ago I was having back issues and standing up at a low table cutting out just aggravated them. Sitting down didn't. So I'd sit down to do my cutting out. Once I got sick I didn't have the energy to stand most of the day so I'd alternate between sitting down and lying on the bed to get enough energy to see me through the rest of the day.

Effectively it's like I've been a chain smoker for a decade. But without the bad breath or the nicotine stains on my fingers or the hacking smokers cough.

One of the many reasons that I run is because there's a history of heart disease in the family. My Dad had a heart attack in his 30s and both my maternal and paternal grandfathers had heart attacks in their 70s. I don't have a great pedigree for heart health so since my late teens I've been pretty diligent about doing cardio exercise. I've run, walked, gone to the gym (back in the 80s in the fluoro g-string era) and I'm back to running again. But I obviously haven't been doing enough.

So this week (I read the article on the weekend) I've been very diligent about moving more when I'm working. I've been standing rather than sitting. Walking to choose fabric rather than propelling myself around the room on my stool on wheels - which is probably safer for the dogs who like to sleep on the workroom floor. And I've been making extra trips up and down the stairs to do little chores when I think of them rather than saving them up to do in one hit.

And I've been feeling very virtuous about making these positive changes. I'm actually feeling better at the end of the day than when I've spent most of it warming a seat. My legs don't feel as stiff and my hip flexors are definitely looser. And strangely, I feel more energetic.

Then #2 son Josh sent me this link about the evils of sugar. Yes I know sugar isn't good for me. But again I kinda hoped that running would negate any nasty effects. And I had also hoped that training for a marathon would give me carte blanche to eat as much as I wanted (cause I have a bit of a sweet tooth). But if I do eat too much sugar, again I'm risking cardio-vascular disease and even my mental health. And let's be honest, sometimes that can be tenuous even without the addition of that delicious, sweet poison.

Now I'm not feeling quite so virtuous. Looks like there are other changes that I have to make.

Unfortunately I'm not that great about denying myself altogether. If I tell myself I'm not allowed to eat something then I want it all the more and end up eating way too much of it. So my plan is to cut back on those extra sweet treats that had crept into my diet and substitute them with something with more nutritional value but let myself have something sweet with my cup of tea after dinner (then brush my teeth so I'm not tempted to have more).

Ah for my perfect world where sugar would be a health food, the weather would always be perfect for running and no undies caused chafing ever.


  1. I challenge you to make the perfect sugar-free iced cupcake....standing up!

  2. I 2nd Lauren - a gluten-free, sugar-free cupcake even!

    Sugar is my weakness...I seem to go all or nothing. I've been on an all since Leadville (um...yes, 5 weeks of solid sugar) so it's time to dial it in and go for nothing awhile.

    I'm certain lying down is okay after a long run since it's not sitting - so at least I'm good there! :)

  3. What is the point, just be comfortable and make cupcakes that taste nice... we are all going to die!!! My Mother-in-law is 90 and she still drives and eat what she like. She somethings joins Dawn for walks with the dogs (2.5km) no problems. OK she was never a runner, but has always walked and played tennis till almost 70. she worked in an office and sat most of the day...

    Now the real trick to a long health life is the same as being a great athelet!!! choose your parents well!!!!!

  4. I'm far more sedentary than I used to be. I sat all day in my job, but had to walk around and see people, plus I walked to and from the train at both ends etc.

    Yesterday I ate breakfast and lunch at my computer and - because I was particularly fruitful - I later realised I'd sat for 8hrs straight with probably only minutes away here and there for loo breaks and to make some food/get diet coke. Not good!!! Given that my 'exercise' has decreased I need to (at least) address my incidental exercise!


  5. I walk quite a lot every day at work and also climb many stairs. I know I am at least a bit more mobile during the day than most others. Sugar...I just love everything very sweet...

  6. How can I live without sugar (pepsi, cakes ecc)?
    I have also history of heart disease in the family for this reason I don't want to give up despite all the injures.

  7. Baby steps and you'll get there. I gave up sitting for a standing desk, and now a treadmill desk, a few years back. I have to say my body is much, much happier. Now when I have to sit for a while, like on a long car ride, I am in agony!

  8. I saw that same article and boy do I need to make changes. I used to think the same - my early morning workouts are enough to get me through the day. Now I try to do something that involves movement every hour.

  9. Oh yes, sitting has become the devil hasn't it? The root of all evil. Like Jill I'm an all or nothing sugar gal too. Trying hard to keep it out of my life right now.
    Waiting on that sugar/gluten free confection creation of yours!

  10. I gave up smoking I'm NOT giving up sitting ... #justsaying ;-)
    Funny though, I can do without sugar per say but chocolate, cakes and biscuits are another story all together.

  11. I read this same thing and have been trying to be much better about moving too...that's one of the reasons I'm trying the exercise ball as a chair at home...it's definitely a slow process.

  12. I have a desk job but fortunately, I get up and move alot. My co-worker and I take a few get outside and walk breaks and I lovingly call them my Vitamin D breaks. But I have recently ditched the traditional chair for a kneeling chair and I am back to my ball chair. I bounce around at work and try not to fall off, do a few different stretches, and just try to stay loose. I do hope it helps negate some of the bad of sitting but in all reality, I don't have too much choice...and yes, I do stand up at times too but that is really funny to see if I need to type. :)

  13. I guess my inability to sit long enough to actually complete a thought has a benefit after all... Too bad it means I'm not very productive.

    And giving up sugar just doesn't work for me.

  14. Man, that's a relief ... wasn't sure what I was in for with a title like "ch-ch-changes" on your blog!!! But it's interesting you wrote about this. I've been thinking a lot about it lately. I spend a TON of time in my car seeing customers and travelling. I have to find a way to be more active throughout the day.

  15. And in our perfect world coffee is ALWAYS good for you. Not only is sugar good for you but frosting in particular cures all ailments.

  16. It's funny that we have been looking into the same things lately. I've read that article about sitting too in the Dutch and US Runner's World and it has even been on the news. That sugar thing is something I looked into lately too.

    I have a sitting job too. And although (usually) I workout 4 to 5 days a week and try to walk Bella at least 30 minutes everyday, apparently with my job I still don't move enough. So when I have to ask someone something at work I usually walk to their desk instead of using the phone or email. It's the little things that count right?

  17. So many rules...sigh. :) Good job Char!!


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