A lot of people who go to the gym regularly dismiss the benefits of walking. They think that as long as they train hard, they can sit down and work at their desks for as long as they want. But the reality is we can’t. Recent research suggests that even if you’re active and doing the right quantity of exercise, if you sit down for more than six hours a day your risk of disease is going to be increased. Some experts are even calling sitting the smoking of our generation.
More offices are starting to recognise the drawbacks of sitting for prolonged periods of time and are giving employees standing desks. There are even treadmill desks in the US that are starting to gain popularity, although that might be a little extreme. However, the main thing we all need to realise is the importance of walking every day, regardless of your fitness levels. This should be in addition to the other exercise you already do.
In fact, if you want to get the maximal effects from your training you need to move as much as possible. When we sit for long periods of time blood flow becomes stagnant, which impacts your recovery. Your muscles get shortened and tightened and it reduces desired outcomes. Another study suggested that the enzymes responsible for fat metabolism decrease significantly after prolonged periods of sitting. Recent research also suggests that not only does walking decrease blood pressure, it can also boost your brain function.
There are loads of ways you can increase the amount you walk. On your commute to work try parking further away, or getting off the bus a couple of stops earlier. At lunchtime go for a walk through the park. One of the real cool concepts I’ve been working with corporate clients on is walking meetings. So rather than sitting down for a coffee, go for a walk with a colleague and discuss ideas. Based on the science, and the anecdotal feedback we’ve had, those walking meetings can be incredibly productive because of the benefits walking has on brain function.
Increasing your levels of incidental exercise and the amount you walk everyday isn’t just advice for older people or the unfit. It’s something that will benefit everyone. Particularly given how much of our busy modern lifestyle is based around working longer hours and sitting for prolonged periods of time.