Quit the Sit and Groove the Move

Several weeks ago, I did my fifth speech for Toastmasters.  The project objective is about body language and facial expressions.  I am a fitness enthusiast; I thought it the perfect opportunity to encourage my audience to move more and sit less.  My entry today is a modification of my speech.  Enjoy!

Did you know that sitting is nearly equal to smoking as a risk factor for heart disease? The effects are the 4th cause of death worldwide. The results of how little we move and what we eat have surpassed the death rate for infectious disease for the first time in history. Sure, things like our commute, and to some extent, our jobs, make it unavoidable as related to work. Right now, we have a choice.

Stand! Stretch your upper back.. March in place. Kick your legs around a bit. Stay standing while you read my blog entry. This is what I mean by “quit the sit and groove the move”. Frequent, short breaks of standing and moving are found to make a positive impact on our health as much or more so that a single, longer exercise session.

I advocate for both. For the last 9 years, I’ve been committed to daily fitness both before and during work. The result is that, at 54 years old, I feel better than I did when I was much younger, even with arthritis and a challenge to my heart. I have less sinus and back pain, and smaller clothing sizes. A hard truth, though, is that if I would sit for 3 consecutive hours, the overall benefit of the longer routine is cancelled. Luckily, I get too uncomfortable, so I’ve devised ways to relieve the ache, particularly during work.

The most realistic time suggestion I found is to replace 2 hours of sitting with standing and moving, broken up into frequent small intervals. We must find what works for each of us. I offer what has worked for me and what could work for you, too.

Let’s start with work. With the right equipment, and the right shoes, it is possible to stand and work at our desks. If you have a workstation that adjusts for height, take advantage. My surface doesn’t raise high enough for me. Instead, I use a laptop lap desk on top of a milk crate. I have my monitors permanently raised on stacked packages of paper. Ideally you want to stand and move every 30-60 minutes, but I stand for 30 minutes to an hour 2-3 times each day.

For a 15-minute break, you already know about walking and stairclimbing. Have you considered the stairwell landing? I have kicked, danced, stretched, and boxed through my short break. (I actually did each of these moves in my speech.) Boxing, by the way, works your core as well as your arms. The important thing is to break from sitting as often as possible. We could change things up into 3 breaks of 5 minutes.

I work at the St. Louis headquarters of Wells Fargo Advisors, a large complex that includes a corporate gym.  I eat lunch at my desk and take a 30 minute fitness break later. I walk one day, and use the gym the next day.  The gym? I have time for that? Yes, because I always wear comfortable slacks, and I switch to a short-sleeved work-appropriate shirt., shortly before my break. Later, I change back. I have 15 minutes on the elliptical to burn 160 calories and break a small sweat. Consider joining our gym. You could have a fitness specialist design a workout of even less duration.

Back at home, we can continue the mini-workout concept. Dance to any music on TV. Move or stand while watching. Let the commercial run or hit pause, then move. If you have an Amazon Echo, ask Alexa for a 7 minute workout after enabling the skill. She can set a timer to remind you to get up. The internet has plenty of youtube workouts. I highly recommend JessicaSmithTV.com. Jessica has many different routines, even as short as 8 minutes. I often do the 9 minute low impact high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout in my morning exercise.

A few years ago, after doing therapy exercises on the floor to strengthen my hip and knees, I found it easy to do sit-ups and other moves, while I was already on the floor. There are multiple options to keep moving.

In closing, let’s make 2017 the year that standing and moving become part of our lives. Let’s quit the sit and groove the move! See you in the stairwell. You may be seated

I drew on these:  Facts on Sitting and Physical Inactivity

  1. Physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality and is responsible for nearly one in 10 deaths in the U.S. alone.
  2. For the first time in history, our own lifestyle choices turn out to be more deadly than infectious diseases. What we eat and how much we move are the crucial factors that will determine both the quality and length of our lives.
  3. For employers, the cost associated with physically inactive employees is 15.3% more than those who are physically active.
  4. High-intensity physical activity doesn’t keep these effects from occurring. As one study concluded, “an hour of daily physical exercise cannot compensate the negative effects of inactivity on insulin level and plasma lipids if the rest of the day is spent sitting.”
  5. Sitting 6+ hours at work increases risks of mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.
  6. Low intensity, “non-exercise” activities like standing and walking are much more important than we realized. In fact, low-level activities play a crucial metabolic role and account for more of our daily energy expenditure than moderate- to high-intensity activity like running.

Another resource: http://www.juststand.org

A Stronger Heart

I was excited to see that recently someone found a January 2014 post about my congestive heart failure, from dilated cardiomyopathy – and commented on it.   I have not been posting for a long time, and it reminded me that I need to update about my health.

I was diagnosed with my heart disease two days after Christmas 2013. I was on medical leave from work for 8 weeks. I improved and felt stronger: I owe this to God, the right medications, a low sodium diet, and commitment to fitness. My improvement was evident when, in early April 2014, my echocardiogram showed that my ejection fraction (pumping strength) had increased from 15% to 32%. 55-60% is the normal range, and 45% or below is considered congestive heart failure. Still, I was referred to an electrophysiologist to address a delay in my circuitry. I have a “left bundle branch block”. In May 2014, an ICD (implanted cardioverter device) was implanted. This device is a defibrillator with a 3-lead biventricular pacemaker. It protects me and helps my ventricles beat in sync.

I will make a long story short; my echocardiogram in June (2015) revealed that my pumping strength/ejection fraction is at 53% (low normal)!   I am amazed that it has come so far. God, exercise, watching my salt, my “bivent” pacemaker, and of course my medications, are responsible for my greatly improved heart health.

I understand that the ejection fraction can change, that I must continue taking the meds, that some shortness of breath that I still experience sometimes, mean that I continue to have congestive heart failure. I still have limitations.

Shortly after the good news, I bicycled 25 miles in Bike MS after training for several months. I also joined Toastmasters, and I plan to do a speech on heart health in early February.

I wish I had more time to write in this blog. I will try to write more often.

Thank you for visiting Julie’s Life Joy.bike MS

Call me a fitness dork

My second half hour of exercise each day is spent in the fitness center at my workplace.  I take fitness breaks instead of lunch breaks.

If you were to open the door and peek inside the studio on Tuesday morning while I am enjoying Vita’s crazy Zumba class, you would see a tall red-haired lady near the window wearing black yoga pants and a black or blue tank top set.   And light blue Bloch shoes that enable me to move better than I would in sneakers.  (In my rush to buy the shoes that allow me to better salsa, cumbia, and otherwise dance better, I bought the blue ones because the black ones were sold out, and the blue ones were on sale for $67.)   I regret the blue shoes; I am too aware of them while watching myself in the studio mirror, but they aren’t the icing on the dork cake. 

It’s the white sweatband around the top of my head that makes me feel like a dork.  The band prevents sweat from dripping on my face.  I have never seen any other female at our fitness center wear one.  Before I bought sweatbands, I would roll a red bandana to make it form a band to tie around my head.  Rambo Julie.  Again, it seems I’m the only one who dares don this attire.  ( It was lovely one day when I walked out to get on an elliptical, and there was a group of visiting brokers touring the facility.  I’m glad we don’t wear name tags.)

Am I the only one that sweats this much?  I rarely envy anyone, but I do envy those who sweat little or not at all.   I feel like I’m in a spoof of Olivia Newton John singing “Let’s Get Physical” in the 1980s.  Oh, well, it’s better than having to wipe my face every 5 minutes or tolerating the drip.  It only bothers me to wear the sweatband when I’m in a fitness class, when I am forced to see myself in those mirrors.  With or without it, I could do without the mirrors. 

The mirrors reveal some things I would rather they wouldn’t.  I don’t look as graceful as I feel.  Even though I am happy with my thinner, more sculpted shape compared to the former version, my stomach still falls quite short of flat.  I blame two Cesarean sections.  My upper arms still have the loose skin that the tricep exercises won’t make completely disappear.  I look much better than I otherwise would, so I don’t get discouraged.  I just don’t want to see my imperfections reflected in the mirror as I step forward and shimmy to “Bad Romance”. 

I know that some of you might be shy about going to a gym or an exercise class.  If you’re thinking about it, but you don’t like the idea of exercising in front of people, think of me.  If I can do it, with my dorky sweat accessories and a body that does not make people say “there goes an exercise freak”, while other people that work at the same company can see me in a tank top and sports bra, you can do it too, if self-consciousness is all that prevents you from doing so.  

On a separate note, great website with exercise videos and workout plans – http://www.fitnessmagazine.com