At the end of 2017, I stumbled across some new research that was both alarming and motivating! The research is everywhere: Washington Post, CNN, even Business Insider. It all points to the same conclusion: sitting all day with minimal exercise can slowly kill you. Even if you go to the gym. You read that correctly: your CrossFit workout, DVD program or yoga class won't mean much if you spend the rest of your day glued to your seat.
Sitting all day is rough on your body for the many reasons. I find the following the most compelling:
Higher risk of blood clots. When we sit still, our blood tends to pool, causing swelling, leg cramps and dangerous blood clotting in our extremities that can lead to serious problems in a hurry.
Increased risk of colon, pancreatic, and other cancers. Moving often gives our bodies a chance to process antioxidants that help fight the free-radicals that cause the cell damage that leads to the growth of cancerous cells in our bodies.
Back pain. People who sit all day are at high risk for all sorts of back problems - herniated disks, muscle aches and excess collagen around ligaments.
As I processed the above information, I decided to experiment with a solution to get me up and moving throughout the day. I tried a bunch of the productivity apps, the reminders function on my iPhone, even a kitchen timer set to remind me to get up.
After much trial and error, I landed on a solution that works, for FREE, using two easy tools you can find online.
I call it the 20-2 Method. (I'll go ahead and reserve the trademark now, thank you very much!)
The basic concept is that you move for 2 minutes after every 20 minutes of sitting still. How you keep track of time is up to you, but I've found the Google timer function to be easiest and is Tool #1.
I open two browsers and set one timer for 20 minutes, another for 2.
I start the 20-minute timer when I sit down to work. When it goes off, I set the 2-minute timer and do some form of movement until that one goes off.
I repeat the process throughout the workday, whenever I'm sitting at my computer. The first thing I do when I sit down is set the 20-minute timer.
After the first few days using the 20-2 method, I got bored doing the same jumping jacks, lunges and walks around my living room. I poked around on the interweb until I found a copy of the Marine Corps Shortcard workout.
The "shortcard" is Tool #2. It's a training program designed to prepare potential special forces candidates for the assessment and selection process. Basically, it's designed to get folks ready for an elite kind of bootcamp. I'm not preparing for bootcamp (of any kind!), but I use the card because I feel it gives a variety of options that (when completed in rotation) work all my major muscle groups.
I do one shortcard exercise per 2-minute break and work my way down the card. The only one I skip is the last - I don't have access to a pull-up bar in the office at church :) I've found it's a great way to incorporate bodyweight based strength training into my day. Note: I don't do anything on the card intensively. A proper warmup is critical for serious weight training, which is obviously difficult to fit in during a 2-minute movement break! I focus on form and moving - I don't push it - and recommend you consider doing the same if you decide to give this a try!
Let me know in the comments if you try my 20-2 Method. I'd love to hear what you think!