Tag Archives: desk exercise

Yesterday was National Chicken Dance Day. And that is good news for your health.

I can’t believe I missed it!

Yesterday was National Chicken Dance Day! Aside from being a favorite of children and wedding DJs, doing the chicken dance can help you meet physical activity goals to improve your health.

According to the 2011 Compendium of Physical Activities, doing the chicken dance could burn as many calories as participating in an aerobic dance class.

Chicken dancing isn’t  specifically listed in the compendium, but it probably falls under category code 03031: general dancing (e.g., disco, folk, Irish step dancing, line dancing, polka, contra, country).

This type of dancing is listed at 7.8 METS, which is a geeky exercise scientist way of saying that you could burn about 10 calories per minute doing the chicken danceNote: This is a rough estimate, of course. The actual amount depends on your body weight and how vigorously you do the dance.

That may not seem like much, but it’s a lot more than you would burn sitting at your desk at work or on the couch watching TV at home. So, why not celebrate (belatedly) National Chicken Dance Day by getting up and shaking your tail feather during breaks at work and TV commercials at home!

Go outside and play!

If you are like most people, you have probably spent much of the day indoors, probably sitting. In fact, this is likely how you spend most days. According to one survey, the average American may spend up to 15 hours per day sitting at work or at home. If you subtract sleeping, this accounts for nearly the entire day!

Prolonged sitting has been linked to negative health effects that are similar to those of not exercising. Even among people who do exercise, those who spend more time sitting tend to have more health problems than those who are more active during the day. Consider yourself lucky if you have a job that keeps you active.

The good news is that you can offset the health effects of sitting too much. Taking short breaks at work can improve attention and productivity. In fact, many time management and productivity techniques include periods of focused work separated by breaks. Using these breaks to get up and move is good for your body and your mind. The same is true at home—getting off the couch during TV commercials can have the same benefits.

Even greater benefits can be gained from dedicating more time to be active, especially regular exercise. A lower risk of weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers are among a long list of positive health effects of physical activity. Lesser known benefits include improved mental health, cognitive function, and greater feelings of wellbeing.

Being active in a natural environment seems to have an even bigger impact on mental health. This is the topic of my Health & Fitness column in the Aiken Standard this week.

Indeed, activity outdoors leads to enhanced feelings of energy and diminished fatigue, anxiety, anger, and sadness compared to similar activity conducted indoors. Additionally, some research suggests that outdoor activity may improve attention in adults and children.

Another advantage of exercising outdoors is that you might get a better workout. This is mostly due to the fact that you will likely walk or run faster outdoors, but other factors like wind resistance add to your effort. Research shows that even though people tend to exercise at a higher intensity outside, they don’t necessarily feel it. In fact, ratings of effort are lower outdoors for the same exercise.

This because the pleasant visual stimuli outdoors distracts you from unpleasant sensations of effort during exercise. This is the same reason that listening to music makes exercise more enjoyable and why fitness centers have televisions on the walls or built into exercise equipment. Think of the outdoors as a really big TV screen!

Almost any indoor exercise can be moved outdoors. While walking, running, and cycling are most obvious, resistance training exercises using body weight and many high-intensity interval training workouts can be modified for outdoors. Yoga and aerobics classes in the park are also great ways to promote both the physical and psychological benefits of exercise.

Much of the psychological benefit of outdoor exercise occurs in the first five minutes, so even short bouts of activity are meaningful. It also means that going for a short walk outside when you have a break at work or walking instead of driving short distances can have positive effects. At home, taking the dog for a walk, playing outside with the kids, or doing yard work are good ways to be active and reap the benefits of being outdoors.

Every little bit of activity you do outdoors will have both physical and psychological benefits to help you become and feel healthier. So, go outside and play!

Your schedule for staying active at work, from Lifehacker (and me).

The negative health effects of sitting all day at work are well established, and incorporating activity into your day isn’t as difficult as it might seem. But it is easy to get busy and forget to take even a few minutes to be active.

Problem solved! The good people at Lifehacker have come up with a schedule to help you remember to stretch and strengthen throughout the day at work. And I got to help!