I call it my mid-morning stretch. Every workday at 10AM I get up from my desk and walk down eight flights of stairs then outside, around the block, and lastly back up those eight flights of stairs.
I started this routine after I realized how little I was moving while at work. Some mornings I would sit down at my desk and not stand up until lunch! Even though I bike to and from work and run a few miles each night I knew I wasn’t getting enough physical activity during the workday. Long periods of sitting can be detrimental to one’s health and are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease due to a decline in blood vessel function.
In a healthy individual, every blood vessel constricts and dilates based on their body’s blood flow needs. Three factors influence the vessel’s reactivity; change in blood flow velocity, change in vessel diameter, and the viscosity of the blood. As you might guess, blood flow in your legs is decreased when sitting. Your blood also becomes more viscous due to a shift in plasma volume (the non-red blood cells portion of the blood). These changes can quickly hinder blood vessel function and over time they may contribute to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
Upon seeing just how sedentary I was at work I resolved to get up and move around during the longest stretches of inactivity. For me this is at 10:00, 12:00, and 3:00. Including trips to the copier, water cooler, and bathroom this means that even on my most sedentary days I won’t be sitting for longer than an hour. And that is no accident. Research shows that short bouts of light activity (leisurely walking 300 yards in five minutes) every hour can entirely prevent the decline in blood vessel function caused by prolonged sitting.
Think about your daily routine. Are there opportunities to be more active? Can you spare five minutes to walk around the block or even just down the hall and back?
I’m David, the lucky guy engaged to the beautiful woman behind The Fresh Beet. Ashley and I met while working towards our Master’s degrees in nutrition and exercise physiology, respectively. We’ve always connected through the shared belief that diet and exercise can drive change in our healthcare system. We both want to be part of the change by promoting evidence-based nutrition and physical activity practices. It was only a matter of time before I joined Ashley on her blog by writing a guest column. Thanks for reading and supporting The Fresh Beet.