Clicking around to some of my daily web sites I came upon this interview with Gretchen Reynolds over www.theactivetimes.com in which she introduced me to a new term, “active couch potato”. Since I read the article I’ve changed it to Athletic Couch Potato and can't stop thinking about it. I think the term encompasses not only me but a large selection of our society.
An Athletic Couch Potato is someone who does active, even athletic, things on a routine, if not daily, basis. These athletic activities are things like running, going to the gym, dance classes, indoor rock-climbing and ect. I think you get the idea.
The couch potato part comes in because once those activities are complete many of us then just go home and plop down on the couch. Indeed, this term, as discussed by Gretchen Reynolds, even includes all of us that have these sedentary jobs that keep us in front of the computer screen all day.
In a response in the article, an interview, she says:
“Multiple, unpleasant things happen inside your body if you sit for hours, without interruption. First, muscles slacken and your spine bows. Because muscles are the body's major consumer of blood sugar, if you aren't using those muscles, you start to get a build-up of blood sugar, after which both blood sugar and insulin levels are out of whack, and you have the early makings of type 2 diabetes.
Meanwhile, your body starts to produce less of an enzyme that breaks down fat in the bloodstream. So you start to get a build-up of fat in the blood; it then travels to the heart, liver, muscles and, sadly, the backside. People who sit for hours have been shown to gain weight and be at much higher risk of diabetes, heart disease and premature death than people who stand and move around frequently.”
This said Gretchen goes on to say she was “…sorry to learn that exercise does not necessarily offset the damage of sitting.”
This thought is a little disturbing to me on a personal basis because I sit for hours on hours a day in front of the computer. According to the interview the answer is to simply stand up. Really that’s it, just stand up. The action of standing up gets things moving and will “pull sugar from you bloodstream and release enzymes...” and can possible reduce your risk for diabetes, diabetes, and obesity.
This interview was to promote Gretchen’s new book, The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can ExerciseBetter. The interview has more information in it on exercise optimization and continuing to exercise as you age but the thought that really stuck with me was of the “Athletic Couch Potatoes”.
So stop reading this, stand up, and start feeling better.