Active Couch Potato - Preventive Medicine Clinic in Montclair, NJ
What is an Active Couch Potato?
Nobody wants to be a couch potato, even if it's preceded by the word “active.” Active couch potatoes are people who get regular exercise, but they end up sitting most of the day as a result of circumstance. It's like being a marathon runner who works a full-time job where he or she sits all day.
In addition to having sedentary jobs, most people also engage in leisure activities after work that result in a lot more time spent sitting rather than moving. Even if a person is getting a fair amount of physical activity, sedentary habits usually outweigh exercise.
How to Avoid Becoming an Active Couch Potato
The exact amount of activity needed to offset the active couch potato effect isn't clear, but experts recommend breaking up prolonged sitting time as often as possible. It's important to stand up and take quick one- to three-minute breaks every half hour or so throughout the day—standing burns twice as many calories as sitting. Some people work for companies that invest in office equipment that gets employees moving—such as a treadmill desk or adjustable-height desks.
Unfortunately, research shows that trips to the gym can't undo the effects of a day spent sitting. Regardless of how someone chooses to increase his or her physical activity at work, studies show there are numerous benefits to doing so. Some ways to incorporate physical activity into a sedentary job include:
- Taking frequent walks: Taking regular walking breaks can help circulation and work to counteract some of the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle. In addition, instead of messaging or emailing a co-worker, walk over to his or her desk.
- Perform desk exercises: Some people stretch at their desks as a simple way to get moving and increase blood circulation.
- Use chair alternatives: Yoga ball chairs help engage the core by working abdominal and back muscles throughout the day.
- Perform active meetings: Instead of sitting in the conference room, try going for walks with coworkers to encourage activity.
Effects of Sedentary Behavior
Sedentary behavior does not only occur at the workplace. Generally speaking, most people spend significantly more time in their cars sitting in traffic and at home participating in more sedentary forms of entertainment like watching television, playing video games and browsing the Internet. It's not just adults who suffer from this condition, either. Children are also moving less as schools cut back on the allocated time for physical education and recess.
Medical evidence continues to show that time spent sitting has negative health effects that are independent of the time people spend exercising. Studies indicate that two hours of sitting essentially cancel out the benefits of 20 minutes of exercise. It's important to realize how crucial exercise can be when it comes to improving physical and mental health. It's proven that active people live longer and have a lower risk of the following:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
Excessive sedentary behavior is considered a health risk, separate from getting too little exercise. Studies have shown that sitting time is an independent predictor for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and most other lifestyle diseases. In addition to incorporating more movement into everyday work activities, taking the time to exercise can greatly improve overall health. Many people fall into the active couch potato category, but getting a personalized exercise prescription and wellness plan can help fix the problem.
Request more information about the active couch potato phenomenon today. Call (973) 777-3711 or contact Dr. Maged Boutros online.
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