Are You a Sedentary Athlete?
What kind of athlete are you? Most people who participate in competitive amateur sporting events, such as jogging races, triathlons, attractions of the century, or strength-training competitions, spend at least an hour exercising most days of the week. But what you do during non-training hours can also influence your overall health and fitness.
Unless you are a professional athlete who is paid to train all day, you may have a condition that has been casually referred to as "sedentary athlete syndrome." The condition has caught the attention of some researchers who have noted that sedentary behavior outside of training hours can affect factors such as body weight and performance.
What is a sedentary athlete?
A sedentary athlete has been defined by some in the exercise community as a person who participates in regular exercise but spends the rest of the day sitting at a table, watching television, texting, or relaxing. These sedentary activities can have the power to undo some of the benefits gained during exercise.
Today's average athlete can train one to two hours a day or more. Workouts can be shorter (less than an hour) and very intense (spin classes, HIIT training, CrossFit) or they can be longer and moderate sessions like a long-distance run or resistance bike ride. Often times, a weekly training program includes shorter and longer exercises.
But outside of gym hours, these same athletes can lead very sedentary lives. In fact, the average amateur athlete today is likely to be less active than non-athletes of the past. How can this be? Consider that most of us today move a lot less on a day-to-day basis than our parents and grandparents, although we probably never went to a gym.
Impact of sedentary athlete syndrome
Sedentary behavior is associated with a wide range of negative health outcomes, including an increased risk of obesity, cardiometabolic disease, and all-cause mortality.
Even if an athlete exercises regularly, the time spent in a sedentary mode can have a significant impact on their health and performance.
The term "sedentary athlete syndrome" has not been widely used in the research community, but that does not mean that the subject has been ignored.
Several studies have been conducted over the past 20 years investigating the impact of sedentary behavior in people who participate in different levels of athletic activity.
For example, a small study published in the Journal of Sport Sciences examined the relationship between sedentary behavior and body composition in 82 elite male athletes.
The study authors chose to measure body fat percentage because increased adiposity affects health and performance even in athletes.
Tips to Avoid Sedentary Athlete Syndrome
Move more while you work
If you work at a computer all day, invest in a vertical workstation or just get creative with boxes or books on a workbench to find a way to get up while you work. Stand up during calls and walk up to your coworker to talk instead of emailing or texting them.
Invite people to walk during meetings. Take faster trips to the bathroom. Get up every hour to do sit-ups or jumps. Investing in a fitness tracker can help by providing hourly activity alerts. Get creative and get up more often.
Design an active daily compensation
Bike or walk to work, park farther away, or walk to the next bus stop. Use the stairs instead of the elevator. These activities can add thousands of steps to your daily step count, help increase time outdoors, reduce stress, and keep your body active.
Make Social Time Active
Instead of going out for drinks, dinner, and happy hour with friends, go for a walk, play tennis, play Frisbee, or go dancing. Get creative and chat with friends while doing something active instead of just sitting down.
If you are planning a vacation, consider taking an active vacation. There are resorts and hotels around the world that can help keep you active by providing bikes, access to the gym, and fitness classes. Or plan your own active vacation with hiking, canoeing, kayaking, or biking.
Do more tasks manually
A great way to increase thermogenesis from non-exercise activities is to do your own housework and household chores. Buy a lawn mower, cut the blades, mow more often, shovel snow, or clean cabinets or garage.
Doing housework can help you burn hundreds of calories a day. You can even turn house cleaning into an exercise.
Commit to ditching your car a few days a week and going to work, running errands, and visiting friends on foot or by bike. You can also combine public transportation with self-propelled transportation for longer trips.
Track Your Daily Activity
Many people who consider themselves athletes or regular athletes burn far fewer calories than they think, consume more calories than they need, and spend most of the day sitting down. To get an idea of your true 24-hour activity level and calorie burn, use an online calculator to get an estimate. You can also use the data from your physical activity monitor.
While you don't need to obsess over numbers every day, you can watch for trends in your activity level and make changes to your routine if necessary. Small adjustments can have a big impact in the long run.
Enjoy Watching This Video About Fitness
Source: CBS This Morning
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