Your Chair Is Killing You: Five Steps To Take Back Your Power

The evidence is in — your chair is killing you. Many American workers sit more than 15 hours each day. Think about it for a second. You get up in the morning, drive to work, sit all day long at work, drive home, eat dinner, watch TV and surf the Internet before bed. This degree of excess sitting is not what our bodies were designed to do. That’s why we’re here: to help you move more!

Studies in agricultural communities, where people move naturally, suggest that our bodies are designed to move all day and only use a chair for a well-deserved rest. People were never designed to be crammed into chairs: sitting all day long is lethal.

Lethal sitting is associated with many chronic disease and conditions — diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer (especially breast cancer) and depression, to name only a few. The chair addiction has to stop. Declare war on your chair — get up!

There are five weapons you’ll need to escape chair bondage.

1. Know what makes you more likely to sit, and plan an alternative.

If we don’t go to our favorite stores, we won’t spend money. If we don’t buy cookies and have them in the house, we’re less likely to eat them. If we don’t prioritize a yoga class at 4pm this, we’re less likely to attend it. Or, if we get home on Friday without any weekend plans, we are unlikely to get off the couch.

Inform your colleagues that from now on, your Thursday meeting will be “walk and talk.” Put a red sticker on your phone to remind you that every time you get texts or a call, you will get up and out of your chair. Dust off the treadmill from the basement and put it in front of the TV. Where sitting stimuli are present, make alternative options easily accessible and even preferable.

2. Keep track of your progress.

If we are trying to pay off my car or credit card loan, we keep track of our bank account. The second tool to reverse chair addiction is self-monitoring. Remember to wear your activity tracker from the second you get up in the morning until bedtime. Leave it on your bedside table to remember. You can constantly monitor your steps in the Walkingspree dashboard online or via the iPhone app, so you can see when you are doing great — and when you need to improve.

3. Create a reward system.

This is a fun one. Think of the power of Frequent Flyer miles, coupon clipping and the never ceasing series of reward programs. Most employers offer rewards and incentives through Walkingspree. These are great because you’re pushing yourself to earn the reward, while also improving your health. Double win! Need more motivation? Pay yourself! Put $1 in a jar every day you hit your step goal.

Reward systems are powerful. Earn it, love it! The movement of truth is now: get up (yes — do it now). Once you’re up, you’ll find that your new dynamic and vibrant life is joyous and (be prepared) a little addictive. Many members get the movement gig as if it’s a religion. Yes, happiness is a reward enough but also set yourself smart goals. Once your activity tracker shows you have increased moving time 20%, it is time to get that bike you lusted for.

4. Train your thought patterns to stop being so hard on yourself.

“How can I ever get myself out of debt because I’m a spender?” “How can I ever ask him out; he’s out of my league?” Will she EVER get up enough courage to ask him out? You know the answer!

We have heard this from members who are overweight, “I feel so bad when I go out,” or, “I feel ugly.” The reality is that this is ALL said by your internal voice. You must stop putting yourself down. Stick a pitchfork in that negative voice and toss it away. Get up, look at yourself in the mirror (yes, do it), smile and get out there and live life — vibrantly. If that bad negative voice dares even a whisper inside of you, tell it to get lost! You can stop being addicted to sitting! You are more than capable!

5. Get social support.

The human is a social animal. Social support is as critical to going for a walk at lunchtime, as it is for having healthy foods at home.

Social support is the final weapon of success. I cannot count the number of times by family, friends, colleagues or even strangers have lifted me up. If you are having trouble getting up, look for a friend to help you. If you see someone struggling to get up, help them. And … get some walking buddies through the Walkingspree platform! View and compare steps walked, send buddy gifts or messages and more.

Step by step we can get end lethal sitting and win the war against the chair. Get up and make it so!

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Can the Mediterranean Diet Reduce Risk of Depression?

Can the Mediterranean Diet Reduce Risk of Depression?

Eating smart has so many positive health effects.  Not all of them are related to weight.   Mental health is just as important as your physical health.  What’s really cool is that many studies have indicated that certain dietary patterns can reduce the risk of depression in adults. This connection appears constant across countries, societies and populaces.  A dynamic cohort study compared and established specific relationships between three diet quality scores and depression.  This study was undertaken in the SUN (Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra) Cohort study.

You may be like some of us here at Walkingspree and asking yourself  ‘What is a dynamic cohort study exactly?’ We decided to give you an answer from the experts at  Nature.com.      “A cohort study is one in which a group of subjects, selected to represent the population of interest, is studied over time. Much like a cross-sectional study, information is collected about the outcome of interest and exposure to risk factors, but in cohort studies subjects are followed over time. Subjects are disease-free at the outset of the study and at distinct points in time, data are collected relating to health outcomes and exposure to risk factors.”

The definition also goes on to say that when a cohort study is dynamic, it simply means that new participants may enter the study over time.  For example, a new participant might enter the study if someone drops out.

So, in the SUN dynamic cohort study, they followed participants over a period of ten years.   University graduates were free of depression when the study began. Dietary intake was frequently evaluated from beginning to end. The study used three diet quality scores: Mediterranean Diet Score (MDS), Pro-vegetarian Dietary Pattern (PDP) and Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 (AHEI-2010). Participants were categorized as having depression if they reported a new medical diagnosis of depression by a doctor or began using antidepressant medication throughout follow-up.

So what were the results?  1,051 incident cases of depression were found among 15,093 participants from the SUN Cohort after a average follow-up of 8.5 years.

Scientists categorized how well participants obeyed a specified diet with a scoring system rating them on a  range of weakly following the diet to moderately following it to strict adherence.

Researches compared the scores of those who were eventually diagnosed with depression to those who were not over the study period.

The results indicated that the Alternative Health Eating Index-2010 and the Mediterranean diet were both linked to the highest decrease of depression risk. Each diet has a high amount of omega-3 rich foods and vegetables, fruits, nuts and legumes.

What is really interesting is that people who appeared to benefit the most recounted only moderately adhering to either diet.    Those that were super strict about sticking to either diet didn’t seem to gain any extra benefit– as a matter of fact, depression reduction swiftly plateaued for the strictest followers of the diets.

If you think you’d like to try the Mediterranean diet or take a look at it, take at look at some of these resources:

Mediterranean Diet:  A heart healthy eating plan

How to Start the Mediterranean Diet:  10 Things to Know

Mediterranean Diet 101: A Meal Plan That Can Save Your Life

Mediterranean Diet Followers Less Likely to Develop Breast Cancer

How You Can Get Started on the Mediterranean Diet

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Is Activity More Important Than Diet?

Being Overweight or Obese is Directly Connected to Activity.

A common thought for some time has been that obesity is related more to a person’s diet than anything else.  Some studies are showing that this may not be the case.  In fact, it’s becoming more usual for people to adjust their diets and make better food choices, as they get older.  This isn’t solving the problem of weight gain.   A recent study published in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise Journal observed American adults ages 20 to over 70 years old (nearly 5,000 which is a large enough sample to achieve accurate findings).  What they found according to lead researcher Russell Pate, Ph.D., is “that increasing fatness with age in U.S. adults cannot be explained by changes in the quality of the diet they consume.”

The bottom line?   It is primarily physical activity that addresses the increasing obesity concern not diet.

Imagine the compounded savings accrued if a company were to tackle improving multiple health conditions while preventing other conditions?

The importance of employers helping employees become more active and engage in their own wellness cannot be understated.

Walkingspree’s program is a simple solution that directly addresses the need to decrease overall healthcare costs.   Walking is an activity that can improve and alleviate numerous health challenges.

That is the goal of a targeted corporate walking program like Walkingspree.  For further information, visit http://www.walkingspree.com or email sales@walkingspree.com.

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9 reasons you should try walking for transportation

This Austin-based writer sold her car and began walking to work every day, braving 103 degree heat, freezing temperatures, and even getting back to her routine after a nasty fall. What did she get from trading in her car for a pair of tennis shoes? Less stress, a new addiction to exercise, crazy financial savings, and a sense of well-being — to name a few.  We loved her story and hope you do too!

A year ago, I sold my car and committed to walking to work. Most weekdays, I walked a little under three miles to my office in downtown Austin. I encourage others who live within a reasonable walking distance from their offices to give it a try.

I’ve never been a huge fan of exercise. I figured if I did something extreme, like selling my car, I could reduce my carbon footprint while getting healthy and saving money. In 2013, I channeled my inner Forrest Gump and logged over 500 miles. Here are 10 reasons I’m hooked.

1. A three-mile walk once a day is not a big deal. Before I began walking to work, I casually dated a treadmill and had a few minor flings with the machines at the gym. I was miserable there. I hated waiting for a treadmill, I’m weird about smells (and the gym is full of them), and I always felt like a hamster, plugging along without a purpose. But walking with a purpose? It’s really not a big deal. If you are pokey like me, it will take you between 45 minutes to an hour to knock out three miles a day. The time passes quickly and next thing you know, you’ve made it to your destination.

2. Walking makes you feel fantastic. Every single day I walked — regardless of the weather or my mood before I left the house — I arrived at work feeling great. This is the first time in my entire life that I have felt that addicted to exercise. Exercise-addicted people used to drive me nuts, but I finally get it now. If I skip a day, I feel crummy, and by mid-morning I’m pumping myself up with coffee to stay awake.

3. If you sell your car and walk, you will save crazy money. I’m married with kids, so selling both cars isn’t an option for us. However, just ditching one car made a big difference. I don’t miss the car payment, the additional car insurance, the downtown parking fees, and the gas and maintenance. I also don’t miss the road rage.

4. Have a Plan B. Likely, you’ll need some flexibility for parent-teacher conferences and daytime errands. Austin offers Car2Go, a car share program where you simply check out a cute little smart car to use when you need it. I also rely on our city bus system and my wildly supportive husband, who picks me up from work many afternoons. Of course, not everyone has these options. If that’s the case, try and schedule some time to walk before work or after work when you can bring the kids along with you.

5. Walking reduces anxiety. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, just five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects. I’m walking proof that it’s true. I’m a pretty high-strung gal, and when I walk, it makes a huge difference in how I handle stress.

6. Walking forces you away from screen time. It’s really refreshing to take a break from screens. While giving your neck and eyes a break, how about checking out the world around you? I actually see sunrises now. I also pass other walkers and feel an immediate sense of kinship. Some days, I get what I call “God’s bonus,” and a pack of shirtless guys half my age jog by, and I feel momentarily what grown men feel like when they ogle cheerleaders.

7. Worried you’ll get bored? Podcasts are the way to go. When I started walking regularly, my coworker suggested I subscribe to some podcasts, and recommended NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour. Now, I geek out to several podcasts several days a week. Here’s the iTunes Top 10 to get you going.

8. Be prepared. On Sunday nights, put your workout clothes and shoes somewhere visible so Monday morning you are ready to roll. This will keep you from making lazy Monday morning excuses.

9. Don’t stop. Make your walks a priority. Aside from one nasty fall I took a few months ago that knocked me out for a few days, I’ve been like a postman when it comes to my walks. I’ve walked when it’s 102 degrees, and this week, I left the house when it was below freezing. It’s that important. I never thought I would say that!

Do you live within a reasonable walking distance from your office? Do you ever walk to work, or would you consider it after reading this? Even if it’s impossible for you to get rid of your car, these tips definitely some of the benefits of walking!

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Just how much sugar have you eaten today?

Sometimes seeing a visual really helps make something clear. Sugarstacks.com shows fantastic visuals of the amount of sugar in an item with sugar cubes. You may want to think twice before grabbing that yummy looking cinnamon roll on the way into work.

Photo credit: Sugarstacks.com

Photo credit: Sugarstacks.com

Photo credit: Sugarstacks.com

Remember to use the Walkingspree Food Tracker to see how many steps you need to walk to burn off what you’ve consumed.

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