A Case For Getting Of Your Arse

By: Craig Harper, Exercise Scientist & Motivational Speaker

Take a Seat. Or Maybe Not.
It may or may not surprise you to learn that many Australians (and many people from most first-world countries for that matter) spend somewhere in the vicinity of twenty-two to twenty-three hours per day either sitting or lying. That's 91.5 - 96% of their (our) time not moving. There's a terrifying and fat-producing thought!

Think about it: the majority of us spend somewhere around six to eight hours in bed each night. Then we wake up, walk to the kitchen table and sit for breakfast. Not long after that, many of us take a seated trip to work. Followed by some quality sitting at work. Which, of course, is broken up with some sitting in a different place for lunch. After a day of sitting at work, the majority of us then head home - in a seated position. And while a minority will head to the gym or some other place to crack a sweat, a much larger percentage will head home. And when I say home, I really mean the couch - because we're so tired from our big day at work. Then after we've recovered a little on the couch, we'll make our way to the dinner table. To sit. And then back to the couch. And the cycle continues…

*Of course, the above 'story' is not true for many people (stay at home parents, manual workers, tradespeople, athletes, etc.) but sadly, it is a scenario that's becoming more and more common - for more and more people - by the year.

Despite what many people think, in 2011 the average person doesn't actually consume a lot more calories than his or her grandparents did forty or fifty years ago. Some suggest that the figure is about five percent more. What we do do however, (so to speak) is move less.

A lot less.

The Energy-Preserving Generation
We've become a nation of statues. Slow-moving creatures hell-bent on preserving energy and avoiding anything that might require an increase in heart rate. Some of us, anyway. Take a look around. We now have an ever-increasing range of jobs which require almost no physical effort. We have automated, systemised and computerised ourselves all the way to Fat City with the net result being more obesity, more weight, less muscle, less fitness, poorer health, increased postural problems, more back pain and overall, greater risk of illness and disease.

Other than that, we're just terrific.

And while we've made our companies perform more efficiently and effectively, we've done the opposite to our bodies. Not only do we expend less energy when we're working but we now also expend less energy when we're not at work. Along with a massive decline in our levels of occupational activity (calories burned at work) we've also seen incidental activity levels go through the floor. The average Aussie expends around 6,000 less calories per week than great-great (great?) Grandma did a century (or so) ago.

Back in the day (you remember the day) we walked places. Lots of places. Long distances. With our very own legs. We mowed grass, raked leaves and tended to our gardens. Unassisted. We lifted stuff and moved things with our very own muscles. And we didn't fall apart.

Our bodies were surprisingly supple, strong, healthy and functional even though we'd never used a treadmill, picked up a dumbbell or been to a Pilates class. And despite the fact that we knew nothing about target heart-rates or progressive overload and had never laid eyes on fat-burners, protein bars or sports drinks, we somehow survived. Quite well, actually. We built stuff with our own hands. We dug holes and fixed broken fences. We played football on the street and raced billy carts down hills and nobody called the cops. We played games that didn't involve computers, TVs or anything with the letter 'X' in it. We climbed trees and nobody died, nobody got sued and we made friends along the way - real friends, not the Facebook kind.

Then we got clever.

We created a world geared towards moving less!

© Craig Harper
P: 0413 244 614 | E: [email protected]| W:http://www.craigharper.com.au


Jun 24 2011 3:36PM
Great article.....hard call....too much exercise....or too little.......too much can be just as bad as too little..........dealing a lot with the elderly in nursing homes would confirm that the ones who have managed to be in their 90's did certainly move more than we do in our society - walking mostly - not intensive exercise - just steady and regular - I guess everyone is unique and we should listen to our bodies more - our bodies tell us if we are doing the right thing - overdoing it or underdoing it - with regard to pollution - it seems there is no more illness per capita in polluted cities as against country areas - especially with cancer and diabetes etc - so definitely it is how we are treating our own bodies!!!
Comment by: Janelle
Jun 25 2011 8:53AM
Just loved this article. The title is an absolute cracker. The issues raised regarding lack of movement I have tried to incorporate in my daily routine and I do this by walking a couple of blocks in the morning to collect the office mail and doing a 30-45 minute power walk during my lunch hour. Everyone has a story that we can relate to and by sharing these stories we may tweak someone elses interest in how to make these changes. On the diet front, I have shifted to eating almost everything to home made soups topped up with quinoa. I would appreciate some feedback on the latter. To make any changes on the excecise, if gym or any of the "go to" places are not an option then look at and assess where you can make a difference in your situation - most of us lead very different lives and each has its own set of priorities.
Thankyou for this article I have gone from a farming background with lots of excercise to working at a computer (and yes I stacked on the weight and now I'm trying to get it off.
Comment by: Myra

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Myra on A Case For Getting Of Your Arse :
Just loved this article. The title is an absolute crac... »
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Great article.....hard call....too much exercise....or ... »
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