Posted on January 23, 2014
My knee doctor in Southern California has a thriving practice. He divides his time between six office locations. Tall, lean, and very athletic-looking I often wondered what he did to maintain such a lean physique under what must be a grueling work schedule, not to mention juggling family time. After all, many health care professionals (doctors and nurses alike) are often in the worst shape, weight and fitness-wise. Naturally I’m not privy to much information about my knee doctor’s life nor his health habits in general, although I do know he is a champion paddle-boarder and passionate surfer. But one day I was clued in to one of his lifestyle practices that keep him, and his office staff, on their toes, so to speak.
He doesn’t sit….
and save for the front desk reception area, there are no desks for sitting at.
I took note one day while waiting quite a while for my scheduled appointment with the knee doc. The physician assistants (PA) and doctors in the office used laptops on bar height counters and they did all of their computer work standing. I remember asking one of the PA’s about this; mostly curious because this was a new office location and I thought perhaps all the office furniture had not yet been installed.
“We purposefully stand,” said the PA. “Sitting too much isn’t good for your body,” he added.
That was almost eight years ago. Since then, more and more studies are being published about the health perils of sitting. Even folks who exercise every day but sit for a majority of the work day are at risk for heart disease or worse, heart failure. Here is a news flash I read just yesterday on Fox News… http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/01/22/sitting-increases-risk-heart-failure-in-men-study-shows/?intcmp=features
In a study published in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure, researchers analyzed the health of 84,170 men ages 45 to 69 without heart failure. Over an eight-year period, they analyzed the men’s exercise levels in addition to their time spent being sedentary.
At the study’s end, men with low levels of physical activity were 52 percent more likely to develop heart failure compared to men with high levels of physical activity. Furthermore, men who spent five or more hours a day sitting were 34 percent more likely to develop heart failure compared to those who spent less than two hours a day sitting – regardless of how much they exercised.
Regardless of how much they exercised! This has to make one just want to throw in the proverbial gym towel! What’s more….grab a bag of Doritos…heck grab two; while you’re at it get your favorite fuzzy blanket and spend the entire day on the sofa with remote in hand watching back-to-back episodes of “Monk” or a marathon of pay-per-view movies. Who cares about the expense; you’re gonna die young anyway so you may as well enjoy doing absolutely nothing.
Sigh. This health and fitness thing is not an easy road and it seems the older we get, the harder it becomes.
This isn’t the first time I’ve heard such “uplifting” health news. It just seems so absurd that even if one exercises diligently every day they are at risk of dying younger if they have desk jobs.
I show the article to Rocket-man this morning. He’s got one eye open having just got out of bed. I remind him that he needs to start doing something about his sitting habit (a good ten hours a day, at least). He will tell you that I have been asking him to adjust his sitting habit at work for many months now. OK. I haven’t really asked….I’ve nagged…and nagged…and nagged. That’s what good wives do, isn’t it?
Truthfully, my own habits aren’t much better. I’m not working so I read a lot (which means sitting), watch Netflix movies (sitting and lounging with my feet up and a poodle on my lap), and I sit at the computer for hours at time. My last job was in a corporate fitness gym. I sat on a stability ball at my desk during much of my shift. This practice helped keep my entire core engaged…and meant constant movement on the ball in ever so tiny circles.
Note to self: I need to get back on the ball!
My one good practice, aside from my usual physical activities? I pace. I pace back and forth (and sometimes in big circles) when I’m on the phone. Once, while on a long phone call with my girl friend in Georgia, I logged almost three miles worth of steps according to my Fit Bit pedometer! Still, I may as well be sitting on my tush at an office job for eight hours a day because apparently I am not moving enough. But I am moving more than Rocket-man (walks with the poodle twice a day, cycling, and regular gym workouts) which gives me license to nag.
Rocket-man comes from a family of heart disease and diabetes, on both sides of the family tree. His father died of heart disease and lost a toe due to diabetes. His older sister had a heart attack at age 42. Rocket-man has enjoyed better health than most of his family members because of running. Being a long-distance runner for over 30 years of course helped immensely but he has had to scale back on his running regimen (almost to a screeching halt) in the last two years due to long work hours, business travel, and yes….a nagging knee issue. He has gained weight and lost muscle over the past year (and so have I, but thankfully to a lesser degree) and while some of this weight gain can be attributed to the aging process he will acknowledge that he has sacrificed his health to the demands of work.
I get it. None of this trying to live healthier is easy, and when you factor in chronic pain, it’s often not fun either.
I remind Rocket-man that his younger sister is finally doing something right. She was heavy and unfit for years. She blamed it on having five kids and the bad family genes. I kept telling her that just because heart disease and diabetes runs in the family doesn’t mean you abandon all sensible, healthy lifestyle efforts.
She must have finally had enough. We saw her some four years ago when she visited us in Southern California. The last time we had seen her was maybe a year prior to her visit. We did not even recognize her. She had lost a significant amount of weight….she looked wonderful. How did she do it?
Since she worked from home as a training coordinator/manager with Hewlett-Packard she was able to rig a setup on a treadmill that accommodated her laptop. She did her job walking (quite slowly as you can imagine) on the treadmill. Conference calls, training calls, office correspondence…everything….all, while walking on the treadmill. She was moving… all day long.
Rocket-man cannot of course set up something similar at his office but he can do the pacing back and forth bit while on his many conference calls. I tell him so for the umpteenth time in what I call my “I-love-you-and-I-care-about-your-health” nagging voice. It goes in one ear….
….and out the other.
As for me? It would no doubt help if I got a job although the pickings here in “middle earth” for a non-engineer type (such as moi) are few. I’m sure I could get a job as a Wal-Mart greeter; I’d be on my feet all day for sure, only then we’d have to worry about my sanity because I would surely lose my mind. Sigh.
So until then; It’s time for another walk with the poodle. Never mind that it is currently 23 degrees and falling outside, with a wind chill advisory. After that, a one-hour yoga session is on the schedule.
Better than nothing…..