Break the ‘9-5-Couch Potato’ Cycle!
Every now and then we all get stuck in a rut, but the key is figuring out how to dig yourself out…which subsequently is often the most difficult part! After some internal debate, I decided that I would put all those years of physical activity research into a few, easy to apply daily practices that could have a positive benefit on both your mental and physical health. So here is the first- breaking that ‘9-5-Couch Potato’ cycle. It’s a vicious one because its sooo easy to fall into and sooo difficult to get out of.
I’d like to start with a question to get you thinking about how you spend your time during the day– We spend 8 hours sleeping (ideally), we work 8 hours (with most of us sedentary at work), so what do we do with the remaining 8 hours? For me it’s an hour exercising, an hour driving/traveling, and we will give 1-2 hours for miscellaneous tasks throughout the day. So realistically, what are we doing with the other 4-5 hours of our day?!
I’ll tell you what the vast majority of people are doing…engaging in some sort of screen time. Whether it’s watching TV, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, the average person is spending roughly 7.5 hours per day staring at a screen just for entertainment (I say as I’m staring at a screen typing this article). In today’s world we are completely surrounded by technology, so how do we combat these huge sedentary bouts of time? For this post, I am going to address just one time period during your day that could be your first step to reducing your sedentary time!
If you are like me, you sit at a desk for roughly 8 hours every day. Yeah you might get up a couple of times to go to a meeting or to go get coffee, but essentially that is it! On top of that when you get home, you may feel exhausted! You could even be thinking “How am I this tired when all I did was sit ALL DAY?” Well I have a HUGE SECRET….drumroll please….. Your body is not physically exhausted, you are just cognitively drained from the day! This simply means that we have used our brain all day and it wants to disconnect or “take a break” for a while. Often times these situations (example: when you are tired after work) are largely dependent upon your “mental will power” in being able to muster up the motivation to MOVE, not your physical capabilities.
So you’re thinking “Yeah, yeah- this is great and all, but how do I fix it? How do I get out of my rut?”. I’m here to give you a hard and fast answer: Don’t immediately sit down when you get home from work.
Once you stick your butt on that couch and click on the TV, it takes substantially more will power to click off the tv and get off the couch than to just keep moving in the first place.
For my science nerds, yes, it’s Newton’s Law at its finest: an object in motion stays in motion. And this is especially true for our bodies.
So, what can we do instead? Well for me, every Sunday or Monday I lay out my personal goals for the week in my Passion Planner. These are essentially what I need and what I want to get accomplished this week, and since I exercise in the morning and work full-time, the only time to get these things accomplished is after work. I do this on Sunday or Monday morning because I am recharged from the weekend and often optimistic about what I can complete. Compared to trying to make a list of weekly goals on Wednesday or Thursday, when half your week has already passed you by!
Now I’m not saying that my husband and I never watch TV (#WinterIsComing), get on Instagram, or on the computer (obviously), but we try to be very intentional with what we do after work. I really try to limit the amount of time that I am sitting during the day, and what I have found (and what physical activity research supports) is that if you move more during the day, you feel like you have more energy as a result. We all have things that we need to get done and things that we have been wanting to do. If you are like me, you have 4-5 hours every day that could be utilized to enhance some part of your life. Whether it is for your own personal development, or more meaningful time with your family and your spouse, it is important! This time can have a positive, negative, or even neutral effect on your overall physical and mental health, you get to decide!