Of all the difficult transitions a former soldier faces when entering civilian life, one that probably doesn’t sound so tough is this: inactivity.
In the military, you were probably on your feet a lot more than you are now, especially if your new civilian routine involves a desk job and a long commute by car, train, or bus (though I realize there are a lot of desk jobs in the military as well.) All of this sitting around may sound relaxing, but it’s not doing your physical or emotional health any favors. Human beings were not meant to be sedentary.
You’ve been going to the gym several days a week? Great. But what are you doing the rest of the time? To help you get the most out of those hours to maximize your health, fitness, and over well-being, I came up with what I call my “30/60 Rule.”
The Inactivity Epidemic
One cause I’ve been particularly vocal about in the last several years is the battle against sedentarism. In fact, in the JYM Army we have an official, ongoing campaign called “Wage War on Inactivity.”
The goal is not just to get in your workout every day – unfortunately, that’s not enough. You may train hard in the gym for an hour, maybe two hours if you’re really hardcore, but there’s still 22 or 23 hours left in the day. If you spend that large amount of time sitting on your glutes (whether at your desk working, driving, or watching TV), you’re opening yourself up to a host of negative health conditions associated with inactivity, including higher levels of body fat, high blood pressure, and increased risk of both cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.
In my Sitting is the New Smoking article on JimStoppani.com (pretty heavy title, right?), I reference specific research showing the health consequences of spending too much time sitting around. Give that article a read and forward it on to any friends and family members you know who need to hear the message.
The 30/60 Rule to Combat Inactivity
With my Wage War on Inactivity campaign, I wanted to do more than just tell people to stop sitting so much; I wanted to give them actual prescriptive advice on how to do it. So I came up with the 30/60 Rule.
The 30/60 Rule is a simple concept: For every 30 minutes you spend in a seated position, do 60 seconds of activity.
For example, if you’re working at your desk and realize you’ve been typing away for the last 30 minutes, stop what you’re doing and get out of your chair. Do some form of activity for at least one minute. This activity can be as simple as walking through the halls of your office building. Or, you can do something a little more strenuous for a minute (or longer), like jumping jacks, push-ups, or even a quick stretching routine – anything to get your body moving and your muscles working.
In this YouTube video, I show one instance of me taking a break while working in an office building and walking a few flights of stairs for exercise. Stairs are a great equipment-free way to get in a quick cardio workout.
[*Embed video here if you want: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8Yfjz9eZ3c]
I’ve even followed the 30/60 Rule before while driving. Here’s another YouTube video of me where I get tired of sitting in LA traffic. I pull over to the side of the road, get out of the car, and run sprints. Of course, stopping your car in the middle of a commute for a quick run is impractical most of the time. I don’t expect you to do that very often.
The point is, you have to get creative sometimes with squeezing activity into your day. And it won’t always be perfect. In the aforementioned video, I believe I was sitting in the car for more than 30 minutes – thus violating my own 30/60 Rule! Give yourself some leeway, but also make your best effort to stay active.
30/60 Road Rules
Staying active gets tricky when you’re travelling. If you’re driving cross-country, make it a point to stop for gas, food, or water as often as possible, even if it means dragging out your trip a bit. When you stop, get out of the car and do a set or two of calisthenics.
When you’re on an airplane, get out of your seat every 30 minutes and walk up and down the aisle. And before you even get on the plane, get some exercise in the terminal. Do NOT use those moving sidewalks you see these days at airports – do the walking yourself! If you have the option of taking either an escalator or the stairs, use the stairs.
Stay Active, Stay Healthy, Stay Happy
Whatever the situation is, be it travelling or just going about a normal workday, the goal is to be as active as possible – even if you’ve gotten in a workout that day. On your off days from the gym, stay active by walking, hiking, doing a sport, riding your bike, or playing with your kids.
When it’s time to relax for the evening and watch TV on the couch, get up every 30 minutes and walk around the house or do a chore. During commercial breaks while watching a football game, do some push-ups, sit-ups, squats, lunges, jumping jacks… anything that keeps you active.
The negative effects of inactivity are very real. Wage war on them every chance you get!