Everybody knows we need to be more active, it is a fact. But how does this tie in with having an office job, a busy family life, and just less time overall? There is research suggesting that sitting down for too long is bad for us, no matter how much exercise you do in general.
This isn't good news for workers where your job requires you to be based sitting at a computer or sitting down. Studies have suggested there is a link between prolonged sitting and being overweight, having type 2 diabetes, and a slower metabolism.
We spend on average 7 hours a day sitting down. We get in from work, no matter what our job, and sit down to read, surf the web or even just to drive home. It is a difficult cycle to break. And we naturally sit without thinking about it. But it is time to start the change.
How much is too much?
Well, here the advice is that we need regular exercise, which equates to 150 minutes a week and to reduce our time sitting. There is no evidence, yet, to say how long we can sit, so we need to take an educated guess. Some countries have taken the step in children’s health saying that they should sit only for an hour or two a day (Australia and Finland).
Sitting too long slows our metabolism, which in turn means we can't regulate blood sugar or blood pressure as well, nor can we metabolise fat, which leads to a variety of problems.
What can we do?
There are a few steps we can all take to reduce our time sitting.
1) When you commute by bus or train, stand instead of sitting. Or ditch the public transport and walk or cycle!
2) Take a brisk walk during your lunch break at work. Find a colleague to walk and talk too, or put on some music and enjoy the fresh air alone.
3) Use stairs where possible. You can do this at the train station, or at work, just avoid the escalators and lifts. Incorporate some stairs into your lunchtime walk to really maximise your time.
4) If you can, take a quick break from your desk every 30 minutes or so to stand. Walk to speak to a co-worker instead of sending them an email or text. Walk to get a tea or coffee to just stretch your legs.
5) Stand at your desk if possible and type for a while instead of sitting. Just don't over stretch to reach your computer, raise it up on a box if possible.
6) When you get home from work, keep getting up to do small jobs instead of spending the evening in front of the TV.
These small changes can make a big difference and will feel odd at first. However, when they become a habit, you won’t even notice you are doing them but your body will!
Feeling inspired? Check out our post on exercises you can use to Workout At Work
Who else knows the feeling of trying to go for a run with your runner friend and plodding along feeling rubbish while they sprint off into the distance? Or maybe a work colleague has tried to talk you into cycling but you just can’t get the hang of it?
Different sports and workouts work for different people! If you force yourself to do a type of exercise that you don’t enjoy or that your body can’t handle, you’ll end up feeling demoralised, demotivated, and you'll be more likely to quit.
That’s why here at Sundried we’ve devised this fun quiz so that you can find out which workout is best for you! Just click the answer that describes you most and then find out in the answers section which sport is destined to be your next obsession.
Which of these best describes your attitude towards cardio?
How do you feel about investing money in a new hobby/sport?
What do you usually do at the gym?
What is your ultimate fitness goal?
How’s your motivation?
What’s your idea of a dream day?
We're taught from a young age that chocolate should be eaten in moderation and that it's bad for our health. But is it really? Can you eat chocolate and still be healthy?
Why is chocolate not healthy?
The simple answer is that a lot of chocolate is laden with hydrogenated fats, sugar and other chemicals that are definitely bad for our health. The difference between eating a bar of regular milk chocolate and something a little more expensive with less ingredients (more cacao) can be significant. And if you can step away from generic chocolate and retrain your palate to something a little less sweet, you can still get your chocolate hit.
What are the benefits of eating chocolate?
A study at Aberdeen University looked at the eating habits of more than 20,000 people. They found that by comparing those who did and those who did not eat chocolate that those who ate a small bar daily were 11% less at risk of cardiovascular disease and had up to a 23% reduced risk of stroke.
Of course, like any research, the research also pointed out that eating chocolate doesn't make make you healthier. It was an observational study. (Source: BBC)
Other findings have shown that dark chocolate in particular can help lower blood pressure and reduce stress. (Source: NHS)
No matter where you look online, there is conflicting evidence for both sides. Some of the studies have been conducted by commercial chocolate manufactures saying how good chocolate is for you, whilst others disagree, saying the evidence is lacking.
There has been a link between cocoa with high levels of flavanols and increased blood flow, meaning better cognitive skills and memory function. Also, epicatechin, a type of flavanol, might have anti-inflammatory effects, which in turn protects the inner walls of blood vessels. In short, this means that chocolate could be accredited for keeping blood vessels smooth and increasing blood flow. (Source: circa.ahajournals.org)
So is it really that bad?
The simple choice is to eat organic, 70% cocoa (or higher) chocolate. These bars have much less fat and sugar than a regular bar, less chemical ingredients, and are just a purer form of chocolate. Eat small quantities, treat yourself to a good bar and have a couple of squares a day.
To eat or not to eat?
Chocolate isn't bad, eating too much of it is. The same rule applies to any food with additional sugar or chemicals. It could have some health benefits, and I for one, am more than happy to eat a small amount every day in the name of science. If it improves blood flow, all the better for my heart and my workouts. If it reduces stress, then I am happy with that. The bottom line is, chocolate will always be a love that I won’t give up, but I will see on occasion and continue to enjoy it.
We often go for the traditional approach to exercise and stick to the tried and tested methods. We jog, run, cycle, weight train and so on, but have you ever thought of trying something new?
Fitness crazes are something we are used to seeing come and go because people can’t help but invent new ways to do things. A lot of sports just modify themselves slightly and create a craze that sticks. Spinning, for example, has become a massive hit and a great way to keep fit.
So what else is there as an alternative for those who want to shape it up?
Hula hooping is a great way to get fit as it raises your heart rate, improves your cardiovascular performance, and will strengthen and tone your core, arms, legs, and back. If you'd like to know more about hula hooping, check out our ambassador Emma Barrett who does hula hooping full-time!
Pole fitness classes have gained a lot of popularity recently as a new way to get in shape. They are a fun and social way of getting fit as well as strong as it is very hard work! Pole fitness will improve your balance and coordination as well as your cardiovascular fitness and it's a great way to spend the evening with your friends. Pole fitness is suitable for both men and women.
If normal yoga isn't enough for you, then you may want to try aerial yoga. By supporting your body weight on an aerial sling, you will be able to achieve yoga poses and deep stretches in a more relaxed way. One of the primary features of using a yoga hammock is its ability to take pressure off the spine and joints as you practice stretches and positions with the support of the sling.
Ballet dancing is classically a great way to keep in shape but it takes a lot of discipline and a lifetime of practice. A ballet barre is a straight bar attached to the wall which ballerinas use to support them while they practice and hold demanding isometric movements. Isometric holds are exercises that you do while not moving (think of the plank.) A modern barre workout is one that has been adapted to suit modern gyms and uses weights and yoga poses to help you achieve a better posture and more toned physique.
Trampolining is another gym-based workout that is gaining a lot of popularity. Using mini-trampettes, these classes are high intensity and fast-paced meaning you are bound to work up a sweat! This is a fairly specialised workout so your local commercial gym may not offer it, but if you go on the look out you will be able to find a gym nearby that offers this type of class. Check out this video of a trampolining class in action!
Exercise is supposed to be enjoyable and it is worth exploring some alternatives whenever you can. The body gets used to the same type of training very quickly, so if you do the same thing at the gym every day you will stop noticing any changes in your fitness and physique.
Lateral raises are an isolating shoulder exercise which targets the mid part of the deltoid muscle group. This exercise will give definition and tone to your shoulders as well as providing a good burn!
To perform this exercise, hold a pair of dumbbells in front of you. Bend your elbows slightly - the straighter your arms, the harder the exercise will be. Beginners should use a 90-degree angle in the elbow. Raise your arms, leading from the elbow, keeping your hands and wrists straight. Raise your arms until your elbows and wrists are in line with your shoulders; there should be a 90-degree angle between the forearm and shoulder. Take your time with this exercise and really feel the burn in the outer part of the shoulder.