Give up your seat
There’s more to the annual Febfast than taking a break from those summer season indulgences, writes accredited exercise physiologist Ashley Baveas
IT IS COMMON for people to focus on giving up alcohol or unhealthy foods during Febfast, but what if you were to give up your seat? Now this may seem like a crazy suggestion when driving is your profession, but there are ways you can reduce the time you spend sitting each day.
We know that prolonged sitting is harmful for our health, with research showing it is the new health burden to our society. It has a similar mortality rate to that of smoking.
People who spend a lot of their day sedentary or seated (greater than eight hours) and have no structured exercise routine, have twice the risk of premature death than those who report the lowest sitting time (less than four hours).
There is also a strong link to sitting and diabetes.
The Australian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that you avoid prolonged sitting and also highlights the need to break up sitting time.
So what can you do when your job requires you to be seated?
Unfortunately, while driving there is no way to avoid sitting down, but think outside the box for a moment.
You can address the need to break up sitting time by having regular active stops. Simply getting out of the cab and walking around the truck will do you good.
Research conducted by Baker IDI showed that having a two-minute active break (light intensity) every 20 minutes can reduce blood glucose levels by up to 24 per cent post eating. This has a massive impact in helping to prevent diabetes. Even more reason to have those breaks after you have had your lunch too.
If stopping every 20 minutes isn’t possible, set a goal of getting out of the vehicle and having a quick walk for at least five minutes every hour. It may not sound like much, but 5-10 minute breaks will do your health a world of good.
In the short term, a walk will: • Boost your energy levels naturally
(no energy drinks needed!) • Keep your mind sharp and focused –
important for long drives • Get your blood circulating • Boost your immune system • Reduce muscular pain or tension that has built up from prolonged sitting and poor posture. In the long term, if you are walking regularly, it will help to reduce your risk of developing: • Type 2 diabetes • High blood pressure • High cholesterol • Depression • Heart attacks • Strokes.
Outside your working hours, how often do you sit and how can you shake up your routine? 1. Do you sit while watching TV? Look to do something active at the same time as watching your favourite show to break it up, eg. housework, body weight exercises such as calf raises or sit to stands. When the adverts come on, don’t reach for the remote and start flicking – take the opportunity to do a lap around the house. 2. Do you sit while searching the net? Computer-based activities can take up a lot of our spare time. It is important to think about our health while we search the net. You could invest in a stand up desk or build your own. Otherwise, set a timer on your phone to remind you to get up for a light break every 20 minutes. 3. Do you catch up with friends and sit? Next time you are seeing friends, choose to catch up with them by taking a walk or doing something active. 4. Do you always sit to eat? This is a hard one to get around, and is dependent on the situation and food. If you are on a lunch break and have a sandwich, it is possible to go for a walk at the same time. Think if this could be appropriate for you and use it to your advantage. 5. Are you regularly talking on the phone while sitting down? If so, stand up when you are on the phone. This is simple way to break up the time you spend sitting.