How much of the day do you think you spend sitting down? It might surprise you, but the majority of us spend at least nine hours on our bum every day. And before you blame your job, we’re just as guilty of swapping a brisk walk for a Netflix marathon at the weekend.
According to researchers at Queen’s University Belfast, this sedentary lifestyle contributes to over 70,000 deaths in the UK a year, costing the NHS £700 million. It’s thought that sitting for long periods of time impacts our hormones, metabolism and brain functions, as well as potentially increasing inflammation in our body.
The straightforward answer would be to sit less and move more. It’s easier said than done though and exercise can feel more like a chore after a long day in the office and for those who are unable to stand for long periods of time, working out in the traditional sense simply isn’t an option.
However, there is another incentive to rethink your approach fitness. A new study published in JAMA Network Open highlights the benefits of taking up some form of exercise, even if you’re in your forties or fifties and gave up on the gym years ago. Using data from over 300,000 men and women, researchers found that those who were active throughout their life were around 30-to-35 percent less likely to have passed away prematurely and about 40 percent less likely to have died of a heart attack compared to those who lived a sedentary life.
Perhaps more inspiring though was the finding that people who restarted their fitness routine in their forties or fifties were also able to fend off a premature death by working out for a couple of hours a week. However, reverse this and those who stopped exercising later in life were just as likely as the in-active group to pass away earlier.
While some might argue the study is over generalising, the British government is taking note from Scandinavian countries that use specialist equipment in care homes to help residents, who are unable to stand, to exercise sitting down.
If you’re one of the many who slipped out of an exercise routine and haven’t been able to slot it back into your life, there are plenty of options that now make working out easier…
The at-home kit
Celebrity trainer Dalton Wong helped Olivia Colman up her fitness routine in the lead up to the awards season and he’s created a couple of easy-to-follow, results driven kits to help the rest of us up our game. Mini Bands, £48, comes with three micro-bands (pink for posture, purple for fat burning and blue for toning) and a booklet to take you through a 15-minute workout that you can complete at any time, anywhere. There’s also Gliders, £75, which includes two gliders and a booklet.
The clever thing about these two kits is that they both offer a full body workout, but they also work on smaller muscles that can be overlooked when you go for a run or to the gym. As a result, you can achieve a more sculpted, defined finish follow Wong’s approach, but be warned you will ache the next day – cue the Magnesium Oil Original Flakes, £9.95, by Better You.
The alternative gym membership
Classpass has been around for years and currently works in cities including London, Bristol, Brighton or Manchester. The idea is that one membership gives you access to hundreds of classes across the city, so you can dip in and out. If you’re someone who gets bored quickly it’s perfect. However, it is only available in a limited amount of areas across the UK at the moment.
The online streaming classes
If you don’t want to spend a penny, then there is a wealth of workouts readily available on Youtube. We rate The Body Coach for his speedy full body HIIT videos and Blogilates, which has a huge selection of workouts and is essentially the next best thing to have a personal Pilates instructor.
And, if you struggle to stick to your workout…
A recent study found that people who lifted weights a couple of times a week were more likely to persevere with their fitness routine because of the noticeable benefits, including increased strength and stamina. It’s also a good exercise to take up if you’re over 40 years because your body starts to lose muscle mass gradually from around this age. Treating your workout like a meeting or a doctors appointment by marking it in your diary and blocking out the time could also help you keep to the routine.