Modern life is slowly but surely killing us. As science and technology take us to new heights of simplicity of use and comfort, we are getting lazier, more entitled and most importantly, fatter. Let’s face it, few of us still work outdoors, with our hands like our ancestors and all the comforts of modern life make expending calories harder for us which leads to ballooning waistlines. Most of us don’t walk to work, we drive instead, we don’t stand but sit while we’re working, even most of our leisure time is spent sitting. All this sitting is making us fat and even killing us. And if you add the previously mentioned issue of our diet we can easily understand why obesity is now at ‘epidemic’ levels.
How food can kill
What’s needed is a lifestyle change, a return to principles that are more adequate for our evolutionarily pre-determined shape. Until relatively recently in our history we did more physically demanding activities, ate less and sat down a lot less. If we’re to stay healthy we need to, especially in the developed world, literally take a stand.
Changing our diet and lifestyle, of course, are no easy feats. Dieting isn’t easy as anybody who has ever tried to lose those extra holiday pounds can testify and after your metabolism starts to slow down those holiday pounds can quickly turn into a permanent feature. Our diet is mostly to blame: we consume insane amounts of calories compared to our ancestors and even those merely a generation or two behind us. A single serving of potato skins or a jumbo bag of popcorn can often add up to more than our recommended daily calorie intake. And what we eat is often just as problematic. That same bucket of popcorn contains the triglyceride equivalent of half a dozen burgers.
This is why we need to change our diet and for all the evidence that portion size and calorie counting can keep our diet in check, sometimes you just can’t keep the right count or can’t limit yourself to just the dismal portion size imposed by many a diet. One good alternative, is the pre-portion-controlled diet. Pre-packaged and pre-controlled diets are all the rage nowadays and, as long as you don’t have any other food at hand, can all but guarantee weight loss. The only downside to pre-controlled diets is their relatively large cost. Fortunately some of the diets are considerably less expensive than others as biologist Matthew Denos shows us (details in his website). Alternatively, exclusion diets like the Atkins diet or a vegetarian or vegan regimen can work wonders.
Get up, stand up
A diet on its own will not achieve the desired result. Regardless of whether you want to change your lifestyle or just lose a few pounds you won’t be able to make a significant dent if you don’t also start living a more active lifestyle. The ideal shift would be to take up a slow but steady running program, running three times a week with an additional one or two visits to the gym each week for cardio training. Of course, if you’re working a day job you might not have the free time for all that or you might be too out of shape to take up sports right away. ‘Power walks’ or biking to work are also great ways to force your body to burn more calories but are also subject to free time and location concerns. So here’s a quick and easy tip on how to burn more calories without changing your schedule: stand more.
Yes, standing has been proven to be an effective way to increase your daily calorie burn and to decrease the risks of various diseases associated with inactivity. Of course, while some businesses are now re-thinking their work environments more around the concept of standing, the truth is that you can’t really stand that much at most ‘sit-down’ workplaces. That’s why you should consider making the most of the rest of your time for standing. Standing while watching television or reading a book might be difficult but thanks to smartphones and tablets you an now easily surf the web while standing or walking. And, with spring finally here why not ditch devices entirely in favour of a walk in the park. Who knows, you might enjoy it and decide to make time for running anyway.
Science has also proven the importance of standing, both in terms of physical wellbeing, as well as in terms of emotional balance. A recent study, in which office workers were provided with sit-to-stand devices to use during their work hours, came up with surprising results. Choosing to work while standing for no more than 68 extra minutes per day significantly improved the participants’ levels of stress and work efficiency. In addition, it also relieved them of back and neck pains. Once the workers had the sit-to-stand devices taken away, their issues instantly returned.
Sitting too much making us fat and slowly killing us. The antidote? Walking, running or even standing. Getting off that chair (especially the plastic one at the fast food joint) might be all you need to lose weight and stay healthy well into your old age.