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Giselle Carson, president-elect of The Jacksonville Bar Association, demonstrates proper air squat form to fight sedentary tendencies in professionals who sit for long periods of time.
Jax Daily Record Monday, Sep. 8, 201412:00 PM EST

Bar Bulletin: Taking the steps to lose weight, improve core and be more productive

by: Giselle Carson

Employees at Google, Facebook and even the Federal Reserve are making the switch. … Are you ready to join them to have better health and a more productive workday?

Sitting all day has been directly linked with a significant range of health problems including: obesity, back pain, diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. This problem is intensified in professionals, such as attorneys, who spend on average more than six hours a day sitting.

James Levine, an endocrinologist with the Mayo Clinic, has done significant research on the benefits of standing and general movement. His research shows the muscle activity needed for standing and other movements triggers a process that facilitates the breakdown of fats and sugars within the body. Sitting causes this process to stall.

If you’re thinking you don’t have to worry because you exercise regularly, think again. Research has shown that the negative effects of prolonged sitting cannot be overcome by a daily hour of exercise.

While exercise rewards us with muscular, metabolic and cardiovascular benefits, sitting idle for too long has detrimental effects that go beyond general health.

Long periods of sitting increase our tendency to snack and inhibit the ability of our muscles to use free-floating glucose leading to an imbalance in cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes.

The solution to all of these problems is amazingly simple and does not require you to go on a diet or join a gym.

The key is to consistently incorporate periods of standing, walking and other forms of movement throughout the day such as pacing while on a phone conference, walking to a colleague rather than sending an email, taking the stairs – particularly if you are only going up or down one or two floors.

Here are some interesting facts in support of our need to stand and move more.

Weight loss offers a simple calculator for calories burned while standing. It suggests that over the course of eight hours a 150-pound person who stands for four hours can burn 600 calories standing versus 462 calories sitting. This can lead to a 14-pound weight loss over a year, by making no change, other than standing more.

Core strength

Studies have also shown that standing and walking strengthens our core because that is how the core muscles are designed to work, in a standing position. A University of Minnesota Division of Health Policy & Management study in 2012 through the Mayo Clinic found that standing trial participants self-reported improved mood, improved posture, less post-work fatigue and reduced appetite throughout the day.

More productivity

Research shows that sedentary people who began standing and moving regularly reported reduced fatigue and increased energy. The average effect was greater than the improvement from using stimulant medications including ones used for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Nearly every group studied –– from healthy adults, to cancer patients, and those with chronic conditions including diabetes and heart disease –– benefited from movement.

Tips to boost your activity during the work day 

I hope that after reading this, you are ready to start walking, standing and moving more during your day. Here are some tips to help you succeed:

• Hold yourself accountable. Set a timer to alert you to get up and move at regular intervals.

• Ease into this project. Start by standing and walking every hour for five minutes and increase the standing time as you become more comfortable and stronger.

• Do air squats. These have been proven to release enzymes that break down the production of fat in our bodies and improve leg circulation. Do air squats while waiting for your coffee to brew or any other time that you are just waiting. It has been said that air squats can’t be beat for getting in a lower body workout that will also boost your heart rate. To do an air squat, stand with your feet a bit wider than your shoulders, toes turned out about 45 degrees. Reach your arms forward and lower your buttocks down past your knees as you keep your weight back and over your heels.

• Stretch your hip flexors. Working at a desk leads to tightening of the hip flexors, which leads to improper posture and back pain. To resolve this issue, stretch your hip flexors daily … best after the air squats or a short walk when the muscles are warmer. The quad stretch is a good basic movement that stretches numerous thigh and hip-area muscles. To do this, stand on one leg and pull the other foot up behind your buttock. Then, keep your knees together and push your hips forwards to increase the stretch. Repeat on both legs.

Moving our bodies will help us live longer, healthier and more productive lives.

I look forward to hearing from you about how you are adding consistent movement and walking throughout your day.

I also look forward to having you join the JBA 30/30 challenge for Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, which challenges you and others to participate in an event for 30 minutes to benefit you, our community and JALA.

Stay tuned for more to come on this challenge.

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