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“I'm not sedentary, I workout x times per week”

Updated: Apr 16

You've probably already heard this phrase before, or even you find yourself in it by replacing the “x” with your own number.

…How so ? Whether we do 7 workouts a week or 1, i'ts the same thing?

Of course not. The benefits of physical exercise for health are undeniable and non-negligible, but being sedentary or not is not defined by the frequency with which one goes to the gym, but by the level of activity during the rest of the day.

▢ Do you have a job where you sit most of the time? (Standing desks are better, but still very static.)

▢ Do you tend to sit down right after eating?

▢ Do you always take the elevator?

▢ If you have the choice, do you automatically head for the escalators rather than the stairs?

▢ Do you usually park the car as close to the entrance as possible?

▢ Do you usually take any type of transportation, even for short trips?

▢ As soon as there is a free seat (in public transport or in a waiting room) will you go sit on it?

▢ Your main activity at home is lying on the couch?

▢ In addition to that, have you adopted home shopping delivery?

Well, the number of boxes ticked determines your level of sedentarism. And yes, regardless of what you do as a sport, the intensity or the duration of the sessions! Obviously, this does not apply to extreme cases such as performance athletes or physical jobs, where one does intense activity most of the day; but to the majority of the population, all of us, who try to carry out a regular physical activity hoping to be able to call ourselves “active people”.

"The hour spent on the elliptical will not compensate for the other 16 spent lying down"

Unfortunately, the hour spent on the elliptical will not compensate for the other 16 spent lying down (if we count 7 hours of sleep 🙂), whether in terms of caloric consumption or proper functioning of the body.

I still remember this client who had lost 1% of his weight in 1 week just by increasing his daily activity! (The recommended limit is 1% per week.) Small intervention - big effect. How is it possible ? This is another topic, which requires an article on its own. Stand by!

Regarding the health impact, a very recent study conducted by 3 French and 2 Canadian institutions has determined that "prolonged immobilization" has a direct impact on the markers of aging, regardless of the sport sessions performed (up to a certain level). An indicator as simple as the number of steps taken daily has been strongly associated with the fitness level of older people by a systematic review published in the famous medical journal The Lancet.

Should you then track your steps number? You can, it can be an effective way to measure your daily activity, set goals and make sure you achieve them, but it is not a necessity. If you want to improve this aspect of your life, I recommend a very simple approach first and foremost:

  1. Take the checked boxes from the list above.

  2. Extract the elements that are under your own responsibility, on which you have control.

  3. Make sure you do the opposite every day.

No need to count your steps. Once these boxes are unchecked, you will know that you are an active person, more active than before. And, above all, you will feel it, your general well-being will go to a whole new level!

"Comfort is the man's greatest achievement, but his worst enemy."

But why ? Why such a strong link between moving all the time and the proper functioning of the body?

The answer lies with our ancestors: the hunter-gatherers. Even if it goes back millennia, our nature is still impregnated by this way of life and our body is meant to move. Comfort is man's greatest achievement, but his worst enemy.

When you think about it, in modern society we no longer need to make the slightest movement for the most basic tasks: everything is remote-controlled (even the light), a large part of the doors open automatically, even the trunk of the car opens with a simple gesture! And not to mention household chores, which are completely automated now. Our whole lifestyle is against our nature.

This 2020 Korean study determined that the average sedentary time is 8.3 hours per day among Korean people and 7.7 hours per day among Americans and this is due to the modern lifestyle.

And this does not only impact the elderly population and the markers of aging, but also other factors determining the other diseases of modern society such as:

  • Decreased heart capacity and blood circulation: which can lead to cardiovascular disease

  • Increased insulin resistance: triggering factor for type II diabetes

  • Alteration of hormonal activity, which can influence the development of certain cancers

  • The increase in chronic inflammation: the main factor for weight gain and the development of metabolic diseases.

In Europe the situation is not much better: a study conducted between 2014 and 2016 by Public Health France concluded that the average sedentary time among people over 55 is 6 hours a day and, again, the least sedentary group had the best health indicators.

So, now we are clear: sport does not compensate or replace daily activity. But is the reverse true? Does a very active person no longer need to exercise?

Well no. Being active all day is absolutely necessary, but not sufficient. Sport has its own benefits for the body, irreplaceable by any other type of activity. The frequency, duration and intensity of the sessions to employ is an individual issue, which depends on a multitude of factors and which is yet another subject.

"Every step, every gesture, every movement counts"

But before wondering if the workouts you do are adequate or sufficient, you should rather focus on the majority of your day. Now that you know how to measure sedentarism, the solutions are at your fingertips and, as you can see, something is always better than nothing! Every step, every gesture, every movement counts and adds up at the end of the day.

YOU have the solutions in your hands, trust yourself and act! But if you encounter any difficulty or if you need more individualized advice, you know where to find me. 🙂

Stay active!

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