Rapper Big Pun said it best, “I just lost a hundred pounds, I’m trying to live!” and we all know that in the end, he lost the battle of the bulge. After many failed attempts to lose the weight, Pun suffered a fatal heart attack accompanied with respiratory failure in a hotel in White Plains, New York on February 7, 2000. Known to often perform while sitting in a chair, gasping for air in between verses, and wiping the sweat off his brow with a towel, Pun had battled weight all his life. A few weeks ago, I remember scoffing at the TV news reporter’s scary headline teaser: “Why your office job can kill you.” I’m a bit jaded when it comes to knee-jerk news headlines and I assumed it was just another scare tactic and pretty much ignored the story. Later that evening I caught a blurb about it on CNN and the story actually focused around people (just like me) who sit all day in office chairs and don’t get any exercise. That is the real killer, the lack of exercise and I’ll be the first to admit that in this crazy busy world, exercise often is the first thing that gets cut out of our schedules when we get ‘too busy’. A very good friend and colleague of mine never has time to exercise and has put on a considerable amount of weight over the last couple of years. So much in fact that he is now on medication for his blood pressure. I always try and invite him out for a bike ride or hike, but his response is that he is too busy. He too, sits all day and leads a relatively sedentary lifestyle like most of us do these days. (Reminds me of the future as depicted in Wall-E). He’s got a beautiful family and I always remind him, what good is wealth, if you don’t have health!? In his defense, he has started taking long walks recently, but it has not been consistent. Consistent, sustainable, healthy lifestyle changes are the answer for long term health - especially for us of the seated variety.
RIP Patrice O'Neal - 1969-2011
Having recently celebrated my 41st birthday, I was inspired to post about the importance of exercise. Just a few days ago, the very funny comedian and Charlie Sheen roaster, Patrice O’Neil died at 41 from complications of a stroke, after battling diabetes. He too was overweight. That hit very close to home because we are the same age.
A few weeks ago Rapper/Actor Heavy D (real name: Dwight Arrington Myers) died at 44 after experiencing breathing problems and collapsing. That one hit me hard because he was one of my favorite rappers. Today I found out on my Facebook newsfeed that 4-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Chester McGlockton died at 42, though his cause of death has not been disclosed. The fact that he was overweight and only 42 made me concerned with my own mortality and got me motivated to jump on my elliptical machine with a new fervor, coming off a 4-day post-Thanksgiving exercise hiatus. I love to eat, come from a family full of folks who are ‘short for their weight’, and I also have a sweet tooth. The fact that I sit all day doesn’t help. The reality is that I have no choice but to exercise – if in fact, I’m trying to live!
Pixel-pusher, desk-surfer, whatever you want to call me, I am sitting in an office chair for 8-12 hours a day, sometimes longer. You know that when you get out of your chair, you are probably driving (sitting down), or eating with the family (sitting down) or watching TV on the couch (sitting down). Because I’m not a morning person, nor am I a night person, there is a small window of opportunity where I can actually get motivated to workout and that’s usually in the morning. As the saying goes, if I don’t (exercise in the morning) I won’t (exercise at all). I’m blessed to have married a very physically fit wife who eats right and loves the outdoors. If it weren’t for her, I’m not sure how much I’d weigh. By contrast, she is on her feet all day, dealing with her students as a schoolteacher. Me, I’m sitting down, though as any creative will tell you, thinking creatively all day, developing concepts and designing does get your brain tired, but until you can count the calories you burn thinking, exercise is the only way to keep the pounds off and keep your heart healthy. Say it again – I’m trying to live!
So what are some things you can do to stay fit/healthy if you have a “desk-job”?
Here is a chart of some exercises you can do while sitting down in the office:
Here are a few tips:
• Join a gym. Meet your wife/partner there to motivate each other & spend time together.
• Get up and take a few walks during the day
• Look for opportunities to stand
• Take the stairs, not the elevator
• Write down EXERCISE on your “To Do” list everyday – make it a priority
• Something is better than nothing – a 15 minute walk is better than no walk
• Build up your workouts: start with 10 minute and move up to 60 minute workouts
• Track your fitness and weight on your smartphone with these apps:
• Lose It
• Map My Run
• Mix it up: Try walking, running, elliptical machine, biking, swimming, etc.
I find that the daily exercise has some additional benefits as well. You will feel better about yourself and that will give you an all around better attitude all day. I find myself getting into a ‘funk’ when I don’t exercise regularly and you know that it will lead you to poor diet choices as well. From a creative perspective, I often use time on the elliptical to solve design problems in my head or generate new layout concepts. Amazing what you can think of when you have blood flow, circulation and endorphins running through your system!
After each work out, I enter the data into my iPhone’s fitness app and it gets shared on Facebook and Twitter. Doing so holds me ‘accountable’ – I definitely feel like its time to get back on track whenever I go on a hiatus for more than a couple of days because I feel like I haven’t posted in awhile. Additionally, you may be encouraging or reminding someone else to exercise when they see your posts. I know that it motivates me to see some of my friends’ social media posts about their exercise routine.
Dying in your 40s is way too young. Being on any type of cholesterol or blood pressure medication at 40 is also way too young too (unless its hereditary). If its’ related to or caused by your poor diet and/or lack of exercise, then its something that you can change. We may live a sedentary lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean that we should turn that into a death sentence. Like Dr. Kate Roth, a family medicine physician said in Andrew Dougman’s article for GoUpstate.com,
“We can invest the time now to exercise and eat healthier or we can pay the price later by paying for managing our chronic diseases.”
-Dr. Kate Roth, a family medicine physician
I’m trying to live!
Workers who sit all day need a health wakeup call
Exercise at Work
Workplace Exercises: How to burn calories at work