S.W.A.P. Your Way to Better Health

January 11, 2016

S.W.A.P.  Your Way to Health

 

Our ancestors didn’t have to worry about the benefits of cardio versus weight training or Pilates to strengthen their cores or squats to shape their glutes!  Their hunter/gatherer lifestyle meant they naturally spent a lot of time outdoors walking, jogging, sprinting, jumping, pushing, pulling, squatting, climbing and carrying.

 

In most Western societies today we spend our time sitting at computers, watching TV, commuting, and being sedentary for up to 60% of our waking hours.

 

SITTING IS DANGEROUS! 

It wrecks our metabolic functions, increases our risk of cardiovascular disease, reduces insulin action, and weakens bones amongst other things.

 

Maybe you’re thinking… “Well I sit a lot, but I also work out a lot, so I will be okay”.  The fact is that too much sitting time is harmful even if you’re getting enough exercise.  This type of lifestyle is aptly named the Active-Couch-Potato Problem by Chris Kresser, a well-respected practitioner of integrative and functional medicine in the United States.  Evidence from studies done in the United States show that sitting too much is harmful in itself and exercise alone isn’t enough to reverse the harmful effects.

 

Just as we didn’t evolve to sit so much, neither are we adapted to performing excessive amounts of exercise

Whilst some stress is good for the body, overtraining causes too much stress which can result in injury, inflammation, cognitive decline and damage to cardiovascular health.  What should we do then?

 

The Solution:

SWAP your way to health.  STAND, WALK AND PUSH, here’s how:

STAND
  • Standing engages postural muscles and increases energy expenditure

  • Take standing breaks.  Stand for at least two minutes every 30-45 minutes.  

  • Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to take your breaks from sitting if you need to

WALK
  • Walk more, sit less

  • Aim for ten thousand steps a day by doing the following:

    • Use the stairs whenever possible

    • Walk or bicycle to work, the shops, etc

    • Do your own chores like cleaning, washing the car, etc

    • Choose a hobby that requires physical activity, as opposed to sedentary hobbies like puzzles or computers.

PUSH
  • Push yourself – include intense physical activity in addition to standing and walking throughout the week. Aim for either of these levels or a combination of each:

  • 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week (50-70% of maximum effort, brisk walk, moderate paced bike ride, low level jogging) or

  • 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity per week (70-90% of maximum effort, running, jogging, fast bike ride, swimming-laps, rowing) or

  • 30 minutes of highest intensity activity per week (greater than 90% of maximum effort, working to absolute fatigue- only takes approx.. 30 seconds of work then you need to recover for about 2 minutes to do it again. Interval training, sprints, etc)

  • Or a combination of the above.

  • Include 2 strength training sessions per week or incorporate this into your daily activity

CHANGE YOUR WORKSPACE
  • Use a standing desk

  • Use a treadmill desk

  • Sit on a balance disk

  • Sit on a fitball

HOW TO STRENGTH TRAIN IN YOUR HOME OR OFFICE

If you are pushed for time, intersperse your day with short bursts of physical activity.  It might only take 2 minutes to do a set of push ups, pull ups and lunges and the benefits will be significant.  Some tools and moves you can use to incorporate exercise into your day include:

  • Exercise Band  - rows/pulls

  • Pushups off a bench or wall (ensure it is stable/strong)

  • A set of dumb bells (1-5kg) for arm movements or weighting lunges and squats

  • Squats and/or Lunges

  • Trigger point balls or tools for self-releasing trigger points anytime you need too. 

TRACKING YOUR PROGRESS

There are numerous gadgets available on the market for tracking your progress…

  • Pedometer

  • FitBit or the like: search ‘tracking steps devices’ online for reviews of devices

  • Use the 10,000 steps walk tracks in Tin Can Bay or Rainbow Beach to measure the distance (approx.. 6km

 

POSTURE
  • Aim to take 1-2minutes every hour to have a posture check.

  • Find yourself a wall, stand in front of it with your feet lined up and facing straight ahead

  • Allow some weight onto your heels and your tail/butt to reach out a little behind you – try not to tuck your tailbone under you and squeeze or tense your bottom.  Relax the bottom.

  • Match/square your underpants or the waistband of your pant straight ahead to the wall

  • Match/square you shirt or bra straight ahead to the wall

  • Grow tall towards the roof

  • Open your t-shirt wide

  • Maintain this alignment for 1 minute then try to hold and walk for another minute

  • Sit less, move more,

  • Incorporate standing, walking, lunging, squats, pushing and pulling into your daily movements. 

  • Intersperse your day with short periods of activity while working. 

  • Take standing/exercise breaks every 30-45minutes if you are working at a desk. 

  • Keep some small exercise equipment on hand to enable these movements. 

  • Aim for 10,000 steps per day. 

  • Consider a pedometer or app that measures steps.

  • Practice good posture and alignment throughout your day.  Try to incorporate this into your movement breaks and exercises.

  • BREATHE!!!!!

 

References: The Paleo Cure by Chris Kresser, Little Brown and Company, Hatchett Book Group.

The American Council on Exercise Personal Trainer Handbook, 4th Edition, Healthy Learning Publishing.

Breathe Education, Certificate IV Personal Training, Certificate IV Pilates, Certificate IV Allied Health Assistant Courses, Melbourne, Australia.

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