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How Exercise Gives Office Workers More Energy
It is quite amazing to think about just how different our lifestyles are from those of our ancient ancestors in prehistoric times. Our distant relatives of the past had to wake up each morning and forage or hunt for food with spears, bows, and atlatls. There was no refrigeration back then, so most foods could not be stored. There was no guarantee that they would succeed, so it was entirely possible that they would go that day without eating, and have to try again tomorrow.
This was the human condition for some 180,000 years. Constant movement and activity. Every day was a contest of endurance and survival. It is what we evolved to do.
Now compare this to how the average person lives today, especially in a developed country. They get up, sit in traffic, and arrive at work where they sit for 8 hours. Then they commute home and sit in front of the television or computer until they go to sleep. It is a lifestyle that is almost entirely sedentary and complemented with a high-sugar diet filed with processed foods and additives.
This is a recipe for disaster with regard to your health. This modern lifestyle of sitting around, rarely exercising, and a constant abundance of high calorie, sugary foods is the reason for the prevalence of obesity, cancer, and other diseases that plague us today.
Our bodies also adhere to the law of inertia in their own way. As Sir Isaac Newton once said: “A body at motion tends to stay in motion.” If you are not used to moving frequently, as is the case with many office workers, your body’s energy levels will adapt to that lower level of exertion and energy. You won’t feel energetic even if you are a big caffeine drinker, because your body does not think there is any reason to be energetic. It has acclimated itself to being lazy.
But regardless of whether you exercise or don’t, we all still need to have energy to get through the day. So what is the solution for people who work jobs that require long periods of sitting down?
It may not be as hard as you think to avoid the problems of a sedentary workstyle.
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Researchers have discovered that simply getting up from your desk and moving around for a few minutes over the course of the day can have significant effects on your mood and energy levels.
When you remain sedentary for a long time, your body just kind of shuts down. According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, adding a little bit of activity to your day can snap your body out of that state of lethargy and improve your physical and emotional wellbeing.
This could be due to the release of endorphins in your body during physical activity. One common term for this phenomenon is “runner’s high”, which refers to the euphoric feeling joggers often get after a prolonged period of exercise. It can also be produced by weightlifting or sports, and to a smaller degree, as this study shows, by simply moving around.
The study subjects were healthy adults who did not typically engage in rigorous physical activity during the day. The participants were instructed to come into a health center on three different occasions, during which the effects of differing levels of activity would be assessed.
On the first visit, the participants had to remain sitting for 6 hours straight and were only allowed to get up for bathroom breaks, roughly mimicking the physical exertion (or lack thereof) in a sedentary workday. The next visit they did 30 minutes of light exercise (walking on a treadmill at a slow speed) prior to beginning their “work day” of sitting down. On the final visit, the participants mixed it up: they would sit most of the day, but once an hour, for 5 minutes, they would walk at a moderate speed on the treadmill, adding up to a total of 30 minutes dispersed over 6 hours.
The participants reported that they felt much better in terms of energy levels and overall mood on the day that they walked for 30 minutes in the morning versus the day of no physical activity. The greatest results however were produced by walking periodically during the rest of the day. Participants reported “a better mood and lower levels of fatigue and food cravings” when activity occurred throughout the day.
This shows that our bodies crave physical activity. The modern lifestyle is so damaging to our health, but just walking around for a few minutes once an hour can make a significant difference.
READ ALSO: Exercise Kills Cancer With Adrenaline?!
If you work at a job that requires long hours of sitting down, try this. Once every 50-60 minutes, just get up and walk around for a few minutes and stretch. This really can make a difference in your health, emotional state, and energy levels, which in turn will probably boost your productivity as well.