Monday, July 30, 2012

Move...Even When Clobbered By "Enforced Sedentism": It's Your Body Right?

A lot of us are forced for hours into positions for which we were never designed: namely, sitting. If you have a long commute or business trip, school and camp drop-offs as part of the immersion of your lifestyle into modern Americana, or your job simply involves ceaseless cubicle occupancy or van driving, then you don't need reminding that it's difficult to keep moving under those circumstances. And that kind of "enforced sedentism" wreaks havoc with your efforts to get and remain fit.

But it doesn't have to.

I decided to test my ability to weave exercise into an otherwise sedentary day. I used two tools familiar to readers of Fitness For Geeks (and if you're not familiar, please consider reading the print or Kindle version:); the FitBit tracker and the EndoMondo sports tracking app.

The resuts were good, and certainly not complex to describe or replicate. And this isn't just static data either – it's reassuring feedback indicating that you are in control, it's your life, not some unsympathetic employer's or the implacable forces of modern life.

Here's the day in a nutshell: I first had a 20-mile roundtrip car commute through suburbia to drop my son off at camp. I started the day with a set of pullups on a nearby jungle gym, then hopped into the car and dropped off the tyke. Starting from that parking lot, I walked while making a necessary cell-phone call (note the qualifier; I do not spend a lot of time on phones) – maybe a little over a mile. During all this time I had a FitBit clipped to my belt.

Now the hard part movement-wise – I had to make a long drive to northern New England, about three+ hours in duration. At every rest stop, I parked farther away than the facilities (on purpose) and stopped at most opportunities. This account is sounding a little anal, but bear with me.

Finally, when I got to Vermont in the late afternoon, the first thing I did was take a hilly four-mile walk, as the sun melted toward the ridgeline. That obviously was the coup de grace concerning my efforts to get some substantive movement in.

The FitBit dashboard shows that I got in more than 7 miles (an equivalent estimate) of walking that day, took thousands of steps, and expended about 2300 calories (what with zero jogging, cycling, treadmilling, etc.).

The EndoMondo screen shows the walk. The new element of these stats for EndoMondo is an estimate of hydration, here 25 ounces or about a pint and a half. This is a reasonably good estimate of the amount of fluids I would have to imbibe to replenish the sweat lost during the hike, particularly during the summer. The calorie estimate, which really isn't that important anyways, is artificially low, because I configured the walk as "Fitness Walking" rather than "Hiking," to which the app assigns higher calorie outputs.

In reality, the walk involved an elevation gain of about 800 feet in two miles, so that qualifies as more like hiking.

The upshot? I sat on my behind driving all day, but I still accomplished the equivalent movement of an excellent rest day with reasonable metabolic health. Proper, as in not constant, eating and movement throughout the day will improve your fasting glucose and insulin. Try it.

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