HEALTHY LIVING: Stand up and move

Learn how to combat a sedentary lifestyle with some helpful lifestyle and nutritional tips.

Recent studies suggest that ‘relaxing’ (for too long) may be harmful to health.

Since most of the general population sit for longer periods of time than moving around during the day, sedentarism can be a common health risk in our society. Sedentarism refers to many of the activities commonly associated with the word sedentary, for instance, sitting, lying down, sleeping/napping, and other various actions that are performed in a state of low energy expenditure for extended periods of time.

Common daily activities, such as watching TV, sitting at a desk, napping, working on a computer, ‘relaxing’ in an arm chair or couch, driving and sitting in a vehicle all contribute to a sedentary lifestyle.

This can all lead to the growing obesity problem and is a big factor for developing medical problems.

Research indicates that there is no real acceptable amount of prolonged physical inactivity because health consequences develop quickly.

Sedentarism is a different issue than lack of dedicated exercise. It is not avoided by meeting exercise guidelines, since excessive sitting time can counteract the benefits of good exercise and actually worsen overall health.

While being sedentary, just standing up at regular intervals and moving around is better than not moving at all for prolonged periods. Research suggests that fairly low amounts of movement will begin to offset some of the health dangers of excessive sitting.

For work, many people have office jobs or employment that requires them to sit for long periods. Having this type of job can be detrimental to health in the long-term, if precautions are not taken to counteract the effects of sitting most every day for extended periods.

Incorporating brief, regular stretch and stand up breaks, along with walks or exercise at dedicated “meal breaks” can help to offset the negative effects of sedentary jobs.

Snack on healthy foods, such as snow peas, celery, carrots, cherry tomotoes, cucumbers, peppers, berries, melon, apples, bananas, peaches, grapes, pears, etc. for a way to improve intake of colourful vegetables and fruits, along with increasing amount of good fibre and naturally low calorie, nutritionally dense foods.

If coffee is the beverage of choice for your workday, moderation is key.

Too much caffeine (more than four regular cups of coffee per day) over time, can have an impact on health.

Sipping on water  flavoured with lemon, lime, cucumber, orange, ginger, or herbs, such as mint, basil, rosemary can offer a way to improve non caffeinated, no calorie fluid intake for better health.

Eating out regularly for work lunches can easily lead to overeating of foods that can be too rich, oversized portions, and contribute to weight gain over time.

Pack your lunch or meal that you have available at your workplace break.

This will give you some control over what type of foods you eat during the day. Healthy foods in a packed lunchbox will include half of the contents as vegetables and fruits, with a quarter portion of protein-rich foods and a quarter of whole grain starches.

For example, a turkey sandwich on seed/grainy bread, filled with shredded veggies and lettuce. Cherry tomatoes, snow peas, cucumber slices, carrots and celery, plus yogurt with berries.

By including delicious, healthful foods in your brown bag lunch, you will eat healthy and feel better by the end of the day. In addition, if you pack your lunch for the majority of your week, this will help ensure that you have healthy meals/snacks to maintain good health.

Keep the treats (bakery items, cookies, candies, chips, etc) to a minimum, since they will be eaten first, if available. While working, most people have less willpower for tempting sugary or salty snack foods.

If, for the majority of days, you find yourself sitting, make a conscious effort to stand up and move frequently to break up the time and this will do your body good.

Think about walking for a portion of the meal break during work, instead of sitting and using the computer or driving. Eat healthful snacks and meals to help ensure you maintain health for the long-term.

 

Sandra Gentleman, is a registered dietitian and co-founder and steward of Canal Beach.