5 Little Ninjas

Movement, Daily, Exercise

Cute… and very good at what they do.

Sometimes, you have to make do with what you have, no matter how “little” that is. It just might turn out it is not that “little” after all, once you get moving.

If you are like most people nowadays, that means you work a mostly desk-bound job, commute for a sizable chunk of your day, don’t get enough sleep, drink too much coffee and in general consume too much NOT FOOD items. Oh, and you have precious little time to exercise the way you know you should.

That’s why when I saw this image of five little ninjas, I was inspired to remind us all about the ways in which we can sneak exercise into our days without requiring big changes to our lifestyles. (As I wrote this post, I was also reminded of some ads for smoking replacement products that featured ninjas, so I can’t claim to be very original. But bear with me. My ninjas are cuter. And more healthy.)

So let’s call this the 5 Little Ninjas of Daily Exercise. (5LNDE for short in the rest of the text.)

Just like real ninjas (supposing such persons really exist), the 5LNDE are sneaky, which means that others might not even notice they are there.

The 5LNDE are also quiet; they don’t require big noisy equipment, or loud grunts on your part.

And because they are little ninjas, they might not appear deadly, but they certainly can make a difference if you do them often enough. Don’t be fooled.

So, without any further ado, here they are:

Walk Ninja – The very essence of stealth and quiet. Simply walking more on a daily basis will make a difference in your muscles and bones, and even though it does not burn many calories, it burns more than sitting and doing nothing in your car or in public transit. Go for a walk at lunch time, have a walking meeting. It does not require any extra time; just make it part of your daily getting from point A to point B. Let this little ninja sneak into your daily habits.

Stairs Ninja – Also very quiet, and can also be done as part of your normal movements during the day (instead of escalators/elevators, for instance). Or use a break or part of lunch time to sneak into the stairwell of your building, and go up and down for a while. 5 minutes. Very good for your muscles and bones, and burns a decent amount of calories, without making you sweat too much. Good ninja to have on your team.

Getting Up Ninja – To go talk to someone, or get water; any pretense is good to get up from your chair. Sitting is really, really bad for us. So the more often you can interrupt a sitting session, the better. Best still if you can work standing, but that is hard to pull off. The most effective, and sneaky, approach to this is simply to stand up once in a while. At least every hour, preferably more. The more active your day becomes, the better off you’ll be.

Squats Ninja – This may seem strange to witnesses, but when you have a moment, perhaps in conjunction with the previous little ninja, go down and then back up again from a standing position. Do 10 at a time at first. Slowly, while breathing. 20 is better. Full amplitude is better than partial; however, just doing the sitting to standing squat, and back down again, without using your arms to help yourself in and out of the chair, does the trick. It only takes a few minutes, so you can do it multiple times during the day. Easier if you have a closed office, but this little ninja can be active anywhere, without being overly conspicuous. And it does wonders for your legs.

Push-ups Ninja – Yes, I know, push-ups are hard. Harder than squats, and stairs. Perhaps even harder than running. But guess what? That’s precisely why they are so good. We systematically under-use our muscles, which means our bones have no reason to remain strong, and our base metabolism slows down because the muscles are smaller. Time to change that. You don’t need to do a whole lot; maybe 5 at a time to start. But do them a few times per day, and you’ll soon see results. Maybe not at the office, though I dare you to start a “lunch push-up club” and recruit a few co-workers to share the pain, er, I mean, fun. Do them first thing in the morning (it is very much like eating a frog), and in the evening. It takes almost no time, so it is the quickest of the ninjas. But just as effective.

That’s it. The 5LNDE.

Make them part of your team in the fight for better fitness and health.

Image from Pixabay

You had better stand up to read this

Sitting, Chair, Daily, Movement

Sitting too long is BAD for you.

Are you sitting comfortably?

Then you want to stand up before reading this.

Standing now? Good.

Now we can begin.

It won’t take long because the topic is essentially simple: Except for a “lucky few” who still have jobs demanding that they spend a lot of time moving about, we tend to spend far too much time sitting.

Far too much of the work we do appears to require us to be sitting. At least, the work environments for a wide range of modern careers involve sitting at a desk.

The rest of the time, we are sitting in our cars, at tables having food, or on couches watching others move (typically on a screen) but staying put ourselves.

Although it is not a topic that’s been much in the news (yet), research findings point very accusing fingers to chairs as being a problem. Why?

1) The act of sitting does nothing for our metabolism. It is so convenient that our bodies essentially perceive the position as almost total rest. Even for people who have a good training routine, spending a lot of time sitting (presumably at work in their case) undoes the benefits of regular, intense exertion.

2) Perhaps more pernicious is the fact that the sitting position, in which we end up spending a lot of time, is exactly the wrong position for our muscles and bones to be in. Weight-bearing structures in our legs adjust to the sitting position because that’s what our bodies do; in doing that, they lose their ability to handle the standing position, including walking and running bouts.

The second effect is also responsible for a gradual loss of capabilities in the elderly or injured: folks who start having problems moving about and obtain assistance from wheelchairs and electric scooters rapidly come to require them all the time. Their bones and muscles become weaker, so they use the chairs more, and enter a vicious cycle.

What are we to do?

For starters, do what you are (or should be) doing right now: Stand while you do other things like read, talk on the phone, think, etc. In fact, any other position than sitting is better.

Second best, but a good habit to take: While it is difficult to do some types of work while standing, you must program regular “stand up moments” into your work routine. (Whether you use those moments to go tell jokes to your colleagues, or just stand by the water cooler for the latest gossip, is entirely up to you.)

Never sit for more than an hour at a time. Take frequent standing breaks. Try to do more of your work while standing. The benefits go beyond fitness and health: moving about while talking or simply thinking about a situation is also reported as providing more dynamic conversation and better ideas.

Not quite ready to take my word for it?

Then keep on standing a while longer, and read this article in Scientific American.

I waited until the end to provide the link, in the hope of keeping you on your toes, or at least on your feet, a little longer… You can thank me later.

Picture from Pixabay.

Another Simple Idea

Movement, Meetings, Everyday

Need to meet? Step right out of your office…

I recently came across a very interesting segment of Quirks & Quarks, the science radio show of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

It was about sitting for long periods of time, and how bad it is for our health. (The segment is from the March 22nd, 2014, show.)

Basically, if you spend lots of time sitting, you are putting the wrong kind of load on your bones, and causing a major slowdown of your metabolism. Even if you exercise regularly, which is better than being a total couch potato, sitting for long periods of time is detrimental to your health.

The only way to compensate is to move regularly. As in every few minutes.

So it reminded me of a tip for moving more that I had been meaning to write about. So here it is.

You’ve probably heard it before, but like most of us you’ve not done it yet. Now’s the time to try it. Take it as a challenge for the coming week.

It’s quite simple: Have a walking meeting.

It doesn’t matter if it is a business meeting, or a personal conversation; instead of sitting in an office, or a conference room, or at a restaurant, or on your couch at home, get up and go for a walk.

This is obviously easier to manage with one-on-one meetings, but it works really well. It adds a dynamic aspect to the discussion.

More importantly, it gets you, and your meeting partner, moving, instead of sitting.

Just don’t spring it on the person at the last minute. It is better to plan for it a little.

If you are a runner, and you know the person you are to meet with runs, you could even make it a running meeting. But that brings about possible complications that are better left for another post.

Walk first, run later…

Try it. Once. This week.

Then make it a new habit…

Photo from Pixabay.