Are You a Sedentary Athlete?

Even if you exercise regularly, you could be living a couch-potato lifestyle

the sedentary athlete
the sedentary athlete.

What kind of an athlete are you? Unless you are a professional athlete who gets paid to train all day long, you may suffer from 'sedentary athlete syndrome.' The average recreational athlete today actually gets less activity than the non-athletes of the past. How can this be? Consider that most of us today move far less in our day-to-day lives than our parents and grandparents did even though they probably never went to the gym, had a personal trainer or took Crossfit classes. 

The average 'athlete' of today may be training as much as one to two hours a day, and doing more intense workouts including high intensity intervals, spin classes and weight training, but outside of the time at the gym, they may move very little during a regular day. The average exerciser may get thirty or sixty minutes of exercise a few times a week, but outside of the time at the gym, they may lead a very sedentary lifestyle. 

Activity Check

If you exercise regularly, yet have a desk job, commute by car, look at a screen in your free time, it's likely that, even with the gym time you carve out, you may be more sedentary than previous generations who never exercised at all.

Add to this scenario the diets and the typical food consumption of our generation, and it's easy to see how we may struggle with weight and health issues, even if we get to the gym regularly. 

Most people who consider themselves athletic or regular exercisers burn far fewer calories than they believe, eat more calories than they require, and spend the majority of their days sitting. We've heard about the dangers of sitting, but even if you get a solid hour of exercise each day, it may not be enough to counteract the effects of sitting for hours at a time. If your typical day consists of driving to work, sitting at a desk, driving to the gym, exercising an hour, driving home and sitting in front of a screen, you are likely living a sedentary lifestyle.

Statistics show that the average person sits a whopping seven to nine hours a day. Other studies show that, even if you are fit, or exercise an hour a day, long periods of inactivity and sitting is bad for your health. The more a person sits, the higher the risk of a variety of ailments and even early death. So even if you exercise regularly, it's important to find ways to simply move more each day.

Five Tips for Avoiding Sedentary Athlete Syndrome

1. Move More Each Day. Invest in a stand-up work station or simply get creative with boxes, books a countertop and find a way to stand up while working on the computer. Stand during meetings on phone calls and walk to your coworker to talk rather than email or messaging them. Invite people to walking meetings. Make more quick trips to the restroom. Get up every hour to do a few push ups or jumping jacks. Get creative and just get up more often. 

2. Design an Active Commute. Bike to work, walk to work, park farther away, walk to the next bus stop. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. 

3. Make Social Time Active. Instead of going for drinks, dinner and happy hour with friends, take a walk, play tennis, play frisbee, go dancing. Be creative and catch up with friends during some activity rather than while just sitting.

4. Do More Chores Manually. Get a push mower, rake, broom, and shovel and hang up all your gas and electric-powdered yard and house tools. 

5. Drive Less. Decide to give up your car a couple of days each week and commute, run errands and visit friends on foot or bike or mix public transit with self-propelled transit. 


Calculate Your Daily Activity 

To get an idea of your actual 24-hour activity level and calorie burn, you can try out this on-line total energy expenditure calculator.

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