Sedentarism, AKA "Sitting Disease" & the "New Smoking"
We sit in our cars. We sit while we work. We sit while we eat. And, even though we are sitting for most of our day, we still take the time to sit at home to relax. Add a global pandemic to the mix with widespread quarantine and stay-at-home orders, and its the perfect storm for another pandemic: sitting disease.
Sedentarism, aka, "sitting disease" can be considered the "new smoking" simply due to our sedentary lifestyles that are literally killing us. Long periods of sitting and physically inactivity can have detrimental effects to our health. Studies have shown that people who sit for long periods have an increased likelihood of disease, as well as shortened lifespans. Even if we exercise daily, it still may not be enough for our metabolic wellness if we are spending most of our waking hours sitting.
However, not to fret. Getting in more functional movement can actually be quite simple, but just like anything in life, it just takes some time to get into the habit of doing. Luckily, I have 2 strategies that you can start to employ today, to get yourself to more movement.
The 20-8-2 Rule
The 20-8-2 rule is something I stumbled across some time ago and it urged me to look into it more, which is when I found out about this “sitting disease” epidemic that so many of us are prone to. Following this will help to get you moving and
standing more. However, if you have the option to stand or move (think treadmill desk) then by all means, opt for it. For those of us that don’t have that, this is a great rule to follow daily. Simply set a timer and for every 20 minutes you spend sitting, get up and stand for 8 minutes and move for 2 minutes. Sometimes it’s not realistic to follow this to a “T” and stand every half hour, but even if you do this a few times a day while working, it is better than just sitting your entire work day.
While you might not feel winded as you would while doing a dedicated workout, standing more during your day will still tone your muscles and burn calories. If you already work out daily, this will help you reach your goals even faster! Win-win.
What is a Genius Break? The method was developed by Dr. Suzie Carmack and shared in her book, Genius Breaks (2017). It combines mindfulness, movement and self-compassion to combat sitting disease, while also helping to manage stress. You can learn more in Dr. Carmack's book, or even become a certified Genius Break Coach yourself.
I was surprised to learn of the simplicity, yet effectiveness of Genius Breaks. The movements are time-effective and adaptable, so that anyone with 10 minutes, at any level of mobility, can partake. What's more, the method also hits all of the major joints within the body, for optimal health.
I recently became certified as a Genius Break Coach to share just how accessible it can be to break the cycle of sitting, while easing stress and creating space for compassion to the self and to others. As a lifestyle medicine consultant, I already encourage my clients to exercise daily and make it a point to stand during the workday, however, Genius Breaks adds an extra layer of functional movement. I see it as the missing link between your standing desk and your daily 1-hour run and I am thrilled to add this solution as an additional component of daily movement, to my toolkit for my clients.
In this video, I show you 5 simple movements that can be done in less than 10 minutes. It is nice way to break from your busy day at work, or homeschooling with the kids (you can even do this WITH your kids!). I hope you enjoy it and in fact, I will be adding more Genius Breaks to my YouTube channel, so please be sure to subscribe.