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Alternating exercise with being 100% sedentary?
Old 03-21-2013, 05:23 PM   #1
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Alternating exercise with being 100% sedentary?

Are there any bad effects from spacing exercise like this:

None (or virtually none) for 4 days
Lots (2+ hours of weights and cardio) for 4 days.
None - 3 days
Lots - 3 days
None - 4 days
Lots - 4 days
and so on....

I ask because I am starting a job consisting of rotating 12-hour shifts. (Yes, some of us "lazy Feds" do this! For us, it is like ship duty for Naval Officers - required for advancement). The job is very intense and there simply is no time for exercise, or even going for a walk. It is a matter of get up, go to work, go home and sleep. All other life activities take place on break days.

I currently work out HARD 4 days a week and am somewhat active the other 3 days. I just had my fitness levels tested. I have a metabolic rate of someone 15 years younger. My body fat is not low (23.5%) but my visceral (bad) fat is only 5 lbs of my total body weight of 138 lbs. The evaluator told me this is equivalent to the visceral fat level of a fit man 10 years younger than I! So you can see, I don't want to lose the benefits of all my hard work, due to having to sit for 12 hours a day, 3 or 4 days at a time, week after week.

Now I know some are going to say "You can always go running afterward," but running is o-u-t, due to a minor physical handicap.

Thoughts and knowledge welcome!

Amethyst
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Old 03-21-2013, 06:00 PM   #2
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My sympathies! That is a rough schedule.

I do not really know the answer to your question, but just wanted to say that all you can do, is what you can do. Exercising on your days off sounds like a better idea than giving up exercise completely.
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Old 03-21-2013, 06:14 PM   #3
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Taking 3-4 days off from weights is a good thing because your muscles grow when they're at rest. So no problem with that. Cardio is best if done 6 times/wk but 3-4 is better than 0. Looks to me like you have a good plan.
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Old 03-21-2013, 06:24 PM   #4
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Two points:

1. Research is showing that sitting long hours is detrimental. It appears to be related to the sheer number of hours that people sit and even vigorous exercise doesn't really help. What may help is getting up regularly during the day and moving around a little bit.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/ma...sitting-t.html

Obesity expert says daily workouts can't undo damage done from sitting all day - Rock Center with Brian Williams

Sedentary time in adults and the association with diabetes, cardiovascular disease and death: systematic review and meta-analysis - Springer


2. The second issue is how sitting cuts your rate of burning calories.

I recently got a Fitbit so I can now see very graphically the difference between sedentary days when I sit a lot versus other more active days. When I have to sit a lot of hours for the day, I find that unless I make a concerted effort to walk more I will take less than 3000 steps in a day. On those sedentary days I find that I don't burn many calories. Even if I find the time to squeeze in some rowing (I use a Concept2) it isn't enough to make a dent.

I just got home from work. I got up this morning, got ready for work and drove to work. Then I went up the elevator to my office and basically worked at my desk most of the day. I got up to go to a few meetings in other offices (nearby), went to the restroom several times and went to the kitchen several times. After getting home I changed clothes and got something to eat and am now at my desk (I've been home less than half an hour). According to my Fitbit I've only walked 2600 steps and I've burned 1488 calories. Now that was spending roughly 6 hours at my office (I work reduced hours). So I still have some time this evening to get more steps and other activity in. If I was working a 12 hour day I wouldn't get that activity. So, I would be at risk of gaining weight because I wasn't burning enough calories.
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Old 03-21-2013, 07:01 PM   #5
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I worked twelve hour shifts and they are rough . It's work ,eat,go home & sleep . Of course my twelve hour shifts were in Nursing so constant work outs .Maybe you could increase your walking in the office . Get up and go to the bathroom then take the long way back . Go for coffee and again take the long way back , use the stairs more frequently .Think of little ways to add steps into your routine .
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Old 03-21-2013, 09:12 PM   #6
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sometimes I'll get sleepy or bored or cold and I'll drop and do a set of 5 to 20 push ups to get the blood flowing. Makes conference calls and cold winter mornings go by a little quicker if you can't drink at work.
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Old 03-21-2013, 09:48 PM   #7
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Your exercise program will not harm anything, but the key is to marry that up with your diet. This is especially true if the work is sedentary. A lot of folks with long hours tend to eat whatever is available when they have the time, and this often includes unhealthy food from a bag or a can, or worse, a vending machine.

I would focus on the weights much more than cardio during the first and last days of your workouts. This too will help maintain healthy metabolism and body weight.
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Old 03-21-2013, 10:10 PM   #8
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Just try to stand up a lot when working?
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Old 03-22-2013, 09:31 AM   #9
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From what I know your proposed schedule should be workable. While many people exercise/recover on alternate days, recovery takes longer as we age from what I've read, and it stands to reason IMO.

2+ hour hard workout sessions are beyond many people, you'd want to work up to a level like that with shorter sessions and/or less intensity. BUT since you've already built up to an intense 2+ hour workout - you're good to go (as they say).

Congrats, and hope you enjoy the new gig job...
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Old 03-22-2013, 09:48 AM   #10
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General medical guidance is to get 150 minutes of exercise a week for maintaining one's health.

From my experience and understanding, an individual workout session should be kept to ~ 1hr or less, as more than that can become counter productive for most of us, so I would question your 2+ hours of cardio/weights if you meant to do that every day for 4 days.

That said, I would try to get in what ever you can without driving yourself crazy trying to cram the exercise in. As others said, sitting all day is detrimental, so agree about getting up and walking around or standing periodically during work time or even doing some simple body weight exercises at the office.
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Old 03-25-2013, 07:05 AM   #11
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As long as you keep moving (as much as possible) while working and watch what you eat while working, it should be okay.
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Old 03-25-2013, 03:22 PM   #12
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There are also exercises you can do in your chair (assuming you sit). They're easy to find with Google.
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Old 03-25-2013, 08:49 PM   #13
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Not sure any of the studies used in the sitting time vs health studies really applies to OP's situation. Very, very few people actually exercise to physiologically strenuous levels (e.g. breathing hard & breaking a real sweat). Sadly, to most ave US adults a brisk walk is "strenuous". And the actual hourly volume of sitting in many of these studies left me questioning the self-reported durations of exercise (since there's only so many hrs in the day). Most data & 'expert' opinion I've seen suggests that even a little exercise (e.g. brief walks) is healthy, and that (up to a point) more is better health-wise.

IMHO- Assuming no major underlying health probs (e.g. heart, lung trouble, etc.), main 'bad effects' from OP's routine might be psychological burn-out & risk of musculoskeletal injury. I've worked plenty of serial 12+hr shifts over the years. Often found myself going for 20-30+min jog or bike right afterwards just to burn off the day's stress. Then grab some grub, shower, & sleep like a baby before getting up to do it again the next day. I did learn that sleep is critical when you push this hard. Getting under 6.5-7hrs/night would really leave me draggin'. I would find it tough to continuously do OP's 2+hrs of hard exercise every off-w#rk day. Might do better taking 1 rest (recovery) day/wk & trying for a light 20-30min after-shift workout 1-2d/wk.

Disclaimer- I'm just an endurance exercise nut (yrs of 100+mi bikes, several marathons, even ironman triathlon). YMMV.
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Old 03-25-2013, 09:31 PM   #14
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As someone said earlier, too much sitting without moving around can be detrimental to health. It's important to stand up and move around at least a little bit throughout the day (every day), even if your job involves mostly sitting at a desk. You might want to read this article:

Chris Kresser: How Sitting Too Much Is Making Us Sick and Fat -- And What to Do About It
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Old 03-25-2013, 09:41 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
Are there any bad effects from spacing exercise like this:

None (or virtually none) for 4 days
Lots (2+ hours of weights and cardio) for 4 days.
None - 3 days
Lots - 3 days
None - 4 days
Lots - 4 days
and so on....


Thoughts and knowledge welcome!
My fitness instructor and doctor tells me that this regime is perfect if you fill the no weights and/or cardio days with moderate sexual activity. Oh by the way, I should mention that my fitness instructor is also my doctor who also happens to be my wife
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Old 03-25-2013, 10:01 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ERhoosier View Post
Not sure any of the studies used in the sitting time vs health studies really applies to OP's situation. Very, very few people actually exercise to physiologically strenuous levels (e.g. breathing hard & breaking a real sweat). Sadly, to most ave US adults a brisk walk is "strenuous".
Awhile back I went and read a number of actual studies on sitting. I don't remember the citations and didn't save most of them unfortunately. However, what I read seemed to say that total amount of sitting time was what was harmful independent of exercise down the rest of the day. That is, exercise didn't make up for the harm that sitting did.

Here is a link to one study that I found:

Too Much Sitting: The Population-Health Science of Sedentary Behavior

From the abstract:

Quote:
Even when adults meet physical activity guidelines, sitting for prolonged periods can compromise metabolic health.
What the research I saw indicated was that prolonged sitting without frequent breaks was detrimental even if the person engaged in moderate-vigorous exercise. It was the uninterrupted sitting that was harmful.

The above study found that - independent of meeting exercise guidelines - the people who tended to get up and interrupt their sitting during the day did better than those who didn't.

I saved another study called "Breaking up Prolonged Sitting Reduces Postprandial Glucose and Insulin Responses" and compared 3 groups. One group had uninterrupted sitting. The second would have 2 minutes of light intensity walking every 20 minutes. The third walked at moderate intensity for 2 minutes every 20 minutes. They then measured blood glucose levels. There was a significant difference between those who had the breaks and those who sat uninterrupted. However, there was not a significant different between those who engaged in the light walking versus the moderate walking.

So there seems to be research indicating that to mitigate some of the harm from sitting it is important to have breaks if only to lightly walk around for a couple of minutes. Sitting all day won't be mitigated by going an exercising for an hour.

I do think this research is very early on and all the studies seem fairly tentative. However, it has been persuasive enough to me that I've set a timer on my computer to remind me tp get up and move around at least every hour.
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Old 03-26-2013, 09:00 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by jags View Post

My fitness instructor and doctor tells me that this regime is perfect if you fill the no weights and/or cardio days with moderate sexual activity. Oh by the way, I should mention that my fitness instructor is also my doctor who also happens to be my wife
Call your doctor for an erection lasting longer than four hours...
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Old 03-27-2013, 07:35 AM   #18
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Call your doctor for an erection lasting longer than four hours...
He did say moderate, nevertheless, her Rx makes sense to me.
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Old 03-27-2013, 07:45 AM   #19
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My fitness instructor and doctor tells me that this regime is perfect if you fill the no weights and/or cardio days with moderate sexual activity. Oh by the way, I should mention that my fitness instructor is also my doctor who also happens to be my wife
+1

You lucky dog!
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Old 03-27-2013, 06:55 PM   #20
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Agree with concept that prolonged sitting is not good. And if I had a sitting job I would certainly get up as much as I could- if only to stretch & move the legs a bit. But no 'experts' I know of say that folks with a job requiring prolonged sitting should not exercise.
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