From Active to Sedentary: A Harsh Reality

Dec 10, 2010
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The concept of being sedentary used to be absolutely foreign to me. When we would talk about people who live an inactive life in my college classes, I would be thinking in the back of my head that nobody is really like that. My reality was so skewed. I was a collegiate athlete who spent countless hours in the gym and on the ice in addition to walking miles every day to and from class. All of my friends were either athletes or studying exercise, and my parents had always been active too. But then I graduated, stopped skating competitively, and started grad school….which meant that my days were consumed by sitting in class and endless amounts of reading/writing. And I learned for the first time how easy it could be to be sedentary. To this day it’s a battle. I spend incredible amounts of time in front of my computer or with piles of papers in my lap. Here I am, someone who studies and promotes physical activity as a living, and I find myself fighting against a sedentary lifestyle.

Fortunately, I have been successful in that fight so far…although I definitely haven’t been without my bad weeks. Keeping a regularly scheduled workout hasn’t been the hardest part for me (though, it’s not always easy). It’s the rest of the day that’s the toughest. New research is showing that even for those who do regularly exercise, finding ways to be active throughout the day is critical. I have been thinking a lot about this recently – how can people get periodic activity even when their life demands require a lack of movement.

I’ve heard and seen some pretty interesting examples of how others are doing this. Just this morning, out the window of the train, I saw a young man doing push-ups on the end of the platform while he waited for the train. I used to have a boss who would take several trips to bring laundry upstairs that she could have carried in one trip. One thing I often do is get off the train or bus a stop or two early to add a little extra distance to my trip home. At work, as much as I can, I avoid sending e-mails to co-workers in the next room. Instead, I try to get up and go over to them. One of my co-workers takes a short walk every day after lunch…no matter what her workload is….because she knows it’s good for her. When I need a break from studying, instead of doing something like watching TV, I try to do something like go to the store (even if I don’t want to buy anything) so that I can squeeze in a little more activity. They’ve even invented treadmill desks.

Even though I have a few fallbacks, I always like to hear how other people work activity into their day. What creative ways are you trying to get moving even when the demands of your life require much inactivity?

Author: Carolyn