Sitting and Exercising. Why are these two activities so hard for some of us to put together?
Depressing studies about the negative health consequences of sitting have scared some of us into using treadmill desks or stand-up workstations, but truth is, most of us still manage to spend a substantial amount of time each day on our posteriors. Is there any way we sneak some activity into this overabundance of ass-time?
As it happens, while I have a few resources to offer on this question, I could really use some advice myself an a semi-related Seated Exercise Dilemma, and am hoping a kind reader or two might share their advice or experience.
So want some ideas for sit-down exercise?
I practice a form of this myself in the passenger seat during long car trips. But for the definitive, So Perky You'll Puke Guide to chair dancing, you gotta watch this video (via HuffPo).
Pedal at Your Desk
Studies show health benefits for workers who use those little desk-bike type pedal exercisers. Shockingly, however, the researchers found that people used them less often after the novelty wore off, so be careful before you fork over for one if you're the sort who has a variety of different exercise machines serving as clothes drying racks in your basement already. They seem to come as cheap as $20, but I have no idea if they're crap at this price point. Anyone tried one?
So if you have the sort of work environment where you have (a) privacy or (b) open-minded colleagues who won't shun you or call security if they see you deviating from the normal sit-and-slouch-and-slog posture, you may want to experiment with Chair Exercises.
But where to find some?
Photo: College Candy
Well here's one handy round-up of 3 chair exercise videos. Note: the last one includes a lot of punching, which could be quite useful if you're wanting to cultivate a don't-even-think-about-dumping-any-more-extra-work-on-me-muthaf@#cka-or-you'll-regret-it ambiance around your cubicle.
And if videos don't work for you, here are some written chair exercise suggestions you could check out.
If you're really serious about doing more exercises from your chair, for example if you're elderly or disabled or have issues with standing up on principle, there is the whole Sit and Be Fit empire, complete with a TV program and DVD's for sale etc.
Chairs That Entice You to Move
Some people perch on Swiss balls, and if you're lacking in balance and you don't put it on some sort of stand, then you get the extra exercise bonus of picking yourself up off the floor if you move too suddenly. You can also intentionally lift your feet up off the floor every now and then play with some core/balance work and hope you don't go sprawling across the room just as the boss walks by. Or, if you've got a chair that rocks or swivels, take advantage of it!
And along those lines, there's always the iGallop and Giddyup type riding exercisers. I'm still secretly intrigued by these but have never met anyone who's actually owned one. The chances of mounting one at work and remaining employed are probably low, but wouldn't that make the thought of heading for the office sound much more fun?
And now it's time to...
Help Crabby Figure Out How to Exercise Hard Enough While Seated On A Bike Seat!
So here's my challenge: Being a (sigh) former runner, I've been spending more aerobic and interval time on pedals than I used to. I love the elliptical machine, because as long as I'm sufficiently caffeinated and the music's good, I can "run" along in a fairly low impact way, get my heart rate super high, and even mostly enjoy the process. My glutes and quads and all the other muscles work together in the background and I don't even notice them unless I'm doing intense anaerobic intervals. And then I'm so busy trying to breathe I've got better things to do than notice my muscles complaining.
However, when I go out bicycling, or now that I'm trying spinning classes: I can't get my heart rate up very high unless I'm standing up on the pedals. When I'm sitting on the seat, my leg muscles aren't strong enough (especially on flat roads) to get more than flirting with my aerobic range.
And even this sub-optimal exertion feels awfully unpleasant! I push it for a while but soon find myself both uncomfortably preoccupied with the state of my thighs, and at the same time falling quickly out of my aerobic range. I either need a lot of hills or a spinning class to get aerobic, and even then it ends up being an short interval workout interspersed with a "walking," not a "running," level of exertion.
So, experienced cyclists and spinners, if you have any advice on any of these I'd appreciate it!
Is this a temporary transition issue that will go away if I just suck it up and try harder?
Can you get aerobic without leg burn or is it an inevitable part of your cardio bike work, even when you've been doing it for a long time?
What's the best way to get stronger leg muscles for cycling: separate strength training? (If so, which are the best exercises?) Go for a lot of hills on the bike? Endurance? Seated intervals? What worked for you?
I think I'd like to try THIS bike workout!
Photo by kharied
So, any thoughts on exercise while seated, or any helpful advice for Crabby on her bike? Or hey, just stop by and say hi!