Those in the health care business claim sitting is the new smoking. It’s bad for our health. While I’ve never once considered smoking, I’ve had a sit-down job at a computer at the Chronotype for nearly 33 years. That’s a lot of hours of sitting.
Awhile back one of our more health-conscious employees decided she needed to work at her computer standing up, so a tall table was rounded up from another part of the building and she stood while she worked. Then she decided it was time to retire and the tall table has been collecting clutter ever since. Walking by the table as I come and go, I finally decided that I needed to stand up for my own health. That middle-age spread isn’t a myth. It has a way of sneaking up on even the best of us.
Back in January, as a New Year’s resolution, I asked the guys in the office to help me move that tall table to my back corner and get my computer set up on it. We all keep busy and are continually going different directions, but finally on the morning of Feb. 28, desks and file cabinets were moved, years of accumulated dust was sucked up by the vacuum, and now I have a dual work area–a sit-down area for proofreading, and a stand-up area for working at my computer.
Although I go home more tired at the end of a work day, I like my vantage point. The excess pounds haven’t yet fallen to my feet, but I’m optimistic that standing will burn a few more calories than sitting. I’m not ready for a treadmill to walk on while I’m working. I still need to hang on to the handles of the treadmills at the Health and Wellness Center at the Cedar Mall, but I have increased my pace and duration over the past few weeks.
As of Jan. 20, I have been participating in one of the three National Diabetes Prevention Program classes offered at Marshfield Medical Center-Rice Lake. The 16-week classes are vying to see which can lose the most collective pounds. I think our class is leading, but it’s a constant battle to burn more calories than we take in. The lifestyle coach is encouraging, and the information provided helpful. It includes little thoughts like “Physical activity: think of it as a medication you need to take daily.” Or this: “I have to exercise early in the morning before my brain figures out what I’m doing.”
For some people, exercise is a way of life. I see runners out in all kinds of weather. For me, a cup of coffee in one hand and a sweet treat in the other is a balanced diet. I’m trying to change my ways, but it’s going to take some time. I’m not doing any of those diets where you eat crazy things like only cabbage all day.
I’m tracking minutes of activity and what I eat. It’s still a bit too early to start gardening, but I can walk through the garden centers at local retailers. I’m eating less junk food, but I haven’t yet been able to totally resist good-bye or birthday treats at the office. One of the highlights of March is a shamrock shake at McDonald’s. I’ll confess. I’ve already had one. But it was small, and I exercised after enjoying each swallow.
I’m a recovering couch potato. I know I’ll have some diet slip-ups from time to time, but I’m not giving up. More than one out of three American adults have prediabetes, a condition where blood sugar is higher than normal, and most don’t even know it. I don’t have prediabetes, but I have all the risk factors. Since I can’t change my family history or age, I am working on the factor I can change—weight, which is based on consumption and physical activity.
It not always fun to exercise. Yet consider the benefits: More energy; better sleep; improved memory, balance and flexibility; lower stress; uplifted mood; lower blood pressure and cholesterol; strengthened muscles; and lower risk of heart attack and stroke.
If I can do it, anyone can. Stand up for your health.