How to move more
Scientists tell us sitting down all day is bad for you, so how can you tweak your life so you move about more? TheSite.org gets physical, physical ...
Forget counting calories. Forget your BMI. Forget, for now, your 30 minute morning jog. Because - whatever you're doing - science has shown that if you spend most of your time sitting on your butt cheeks, you're still at risk of getting nasty diseases like heart problems and diabetes.
The magic medicine? To move around more. And we're not talking about donning lycra, doing triathlons, and boring everyone rigid about your 'personal best' times here...But simply NOT SITTING DOWN as much. How? We're here to show you.
What exactly does 'moving more' mean?
You'll be surprised how just moving a little bit more - getting up to go to the loo more often for example - could dramatically improve your health in the long term. This is because when we sit all day, fatty deposits build up around our internal organs, leading to serious health problems later on.
Moving is really just another way of talking about energy expenditure. The more energy you expend, even doing small tasks, the healthier you'll become.
How do I measure my energy expenditure?
Scientists use a system called 'METS' which basically means assigning a number to any activity you do compared to your lying-still state. Using the METS system, standing in a lift is 1.3 whereas taking the stairs is 4. So taking the stairs uses up four times the amount of energy standing in a lift would.
METS allow you to compare different activities and get a rough idea of how much energy you expend each day.
To try and help you work out where you're at in terms of energy expenditure, Dr Wilby Williamson showed TheSite the general MET rate for common activities.
Clubbing - 3.5 to 5
Vigorous sex session - 2.8
Walking - 3 - 4.4
Jogging - 6
Zumba - 6.5
Football game - 10!
Easy stuff you wouldn't even think was exercise!
Tidying your room - 3
Sweeping the floor - 3.3
Washing windows - 3.5
Feeding the cat - 2.5
Cooking - 2.5
Not so good stuff
Standing at the bar, drinking: 1.3 to 1.5
Kissing - 1.3
Sitting at your desk - 1.3
Getting the bus - 1.3
Facebook stalking on your laptop - 1.3
Watching the telly- 1.3
Washing dishes - 1.8
As you can see, the more you move, the higher that number gets.
Aim to be average
What scientists want you to do is get to a daily average energy expenditure of 1.75.
Doesn't sound high, does it? But if you add up all those hours you sit down - and how that could affect your daily number - then you realise you're probably dragging that average below healthy levels. Even if you're doing your 30 minute jog each day.
Similarly, a vigorous shag isn't going to give you a high average if you spend the rest of the day lying in the wet patch, watching DVD box sets. It's about trying to move as often as you can to keep those MET numbers up as much as possible.
So how can I move more?
Work in an office? Or cramming hard for exams? Don't take a huge 2 litre water bottle to your desk - but a teeny tiny cup. One you have to keep getting up for to keep filling (1.8-3 METs). And drink loads. So you need to pee loads. And before you wee, why not climb a flight of stairs (4-8 METs) and go to the loo on another floor of the building up there? And then do some squats in the cubicle afterwards. It sounds ridiculous but it really does make a difference.
Or like watching TV? Dr Wilby recommends breaking your sitting time every 20 minutes - that's usually each advert break. So get up and make a cup of tea. Or dance around the living room. Or make yourself do a push up every time a comparison website is advertised.
I'm a skinny minny, surely I don't need to bother?
Here's an unexpected fact: it's better to be fat and fit, rather than just thin. So just cause you're skinny doesn't mean you're off the hook. Because all the nastiness is happening on the inside, not on your belly or thighs.
Also - doing all this isn't the way to get a perfect body. So don't expect a six-pack or arse of steel. But it will reduce your chances of pricking yourself with insulin every day when you're older.
So whether it's getting up every 20 minutes to chat to colleagues, or walking to uni lectures rather than getting a bus - just try and be aware of how much you're on your bottom and mix it up a bit more. It really is that easy. And your 60-year-old self will be high-fiving you for it.
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