Ah, the joys of commuting . . . For some reason, we live in a society in which we all need to be at work at the exact same time. Thanks to this, we also live in a society where we all need to deal with road rage, traffic, construction, and yo-yos who never should have received a license in the first place. While you don't have control over these stress-inducing obstacles outside of your vehicle, what happens inside your vehicle is entirely up to you. Here are a few simple tricks to turn stress into bliss during your commutes.
It took me years to learn all these tactics, having had several jobs and relationships over the years that required me to spend hours on California's highways and byways. I am, and have always been, a very sensitive person, so those drives meant that I wasn't exactly a lovely goddess to be around after an hour and a half on the road. Now, a couple of boyfriends and jobs later, I'm all about vehicular Zen, so it's my pleasure to save you the heartache and unemployment checks. Now get on out there commuters and make this world a better place, one blissful car at a time!
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And if you'd like to know more about Beachbody Director of Results Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope, named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration. You can also read a more scientific (not to mention snarky) take on many of the topics we discuss here at The Real Fitness Nerd blog.
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Everyone knows that it's better to spend your free time getting up and exercising rather than sitting on the couch watching old Gilligan's Island reruns. But if you look at the actual time most of us spend sitting down, couch potato time is only a small part of the problem. What's really hurting us is the 8 hours every day spent sitting down at work.
The bad news is that sitting too much can actually kill you, much quicker than if you don't. The American Cancer Society tracked the health of 123,000 Americans for over 10 years. Men who spent 6 hours or more per day sitting had an overall death rate that was about 20 percent higher than the men who sat for 3 hours or less. The death rate for women who sat for more than 6 hours a day was about 40 percent higher.
According to statistics compiled by the US Bureau of Labor, in 1960 more than half of American jobs required at least a moderate amount of physical activity in order to perform their duties. In the last five decades, that number has fallen precipitously, to the point where now only 1 in 5 jobs require a moderate amount of physical exertion.
Coinciding with that change, the number of calories burned during work time by American men and women dropped by 142 per day, on average. That equates to every man and woman in America eating a Hostess® Twinkie® at work, every, single day.
According to research at the Mayo Clinic, entropy takes hold when you spend too much time sedentary. Your body rebels and begins to do bad things to you—specifically, not only do you begin to get fat but your body also begins to store that fat around your middle, which is correlated with heart disease. In addition to giving you a big spare tire, sitting too much is linked to increased risks of cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and a host of other bad things, including hemorrhoids.
And let's not even mention back pain, which is the thing that drove San Francisco Marketing Executive Alex Salkever to switch from a sitting desk to a standing desk several years ago. According to Salkever, the change was immediate and dramatic.
"I began standing up in my office almost two years ago when we moved and there was a chest-level work bench in my office," said Salkever, "I thought, rather than buy a desk, I'd try standing. And I found it made my back feel better. I could concentrate for longer periods and felt less sleepy. I can work while sitting, now, but not for extended periods and I really prefer the standing desks. In fact, I convinced two coworkers to do the same and they both said it was a dramatic improvement."
If you're handy with tools it's easy to make your own standing workstation. Otherwise, there are dozens of good commercial options ranging from $200 to more than $1,000.
Others have found that sitting on a large balance ball instead of an office chair allows them to be at a regular desk while allowing their body to remain engaged and dynamic rather than slumped in a chair. Thanks to programs like P90X2® and Chalene Johnson's Get on the Ball!, most Beachbody® readers have at least one balance ball bouncing around the house. I don't use mine all the time but it's a great change sometimes. Because my body must actively balance on the ball, it continuously uses the hundreds of muscles that consist of the core. And my nervous energy gets absorbed by a natural bouncing. While researchers who studied the benefits of using a balance ball this way say it shouldn't be considered exercise on its own, it can definitely help add variety to your office ergonomics.
You can buy souped-up versions of the balance ball chair with a weighted base, casters, and in some versions, resistance bands to allow exercise right at your desk. In my opinion, they seem like overkill, especially the casters (and the price), but your mileage may vary.
I'm not suggesting that you should haul your fancy desk and office chair to the dump tomorrow. But don't accept sitting down all day as an inevitable consequence of modern life. While my career requires that I spend more time than I wish at a computer, I mix up my position a lot, the working stiff version of Muscle Confusion™. Sometimes I sit at my regular desk, which has a full keyboard, monitor stand, and what an ergonomics expert would describe as a good position. Much of the time I sit with my laptop on a hard wood bench that requires good posture but is surprisingly comfortable for long periods. And, finally, when I'm restless, I throw in the balance ball just for good measure. I also make it a point to stand and walk around when making phone calls, which cuts my sitting time probably in half.
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When you travel, do you leave your healthy habits at home? On business trips, it's easy to overdo it with carb-fest lunches and expense account dinners, sedentary meetings, and late nights at the hotel bar. (It's networking, right?) And pleasure trips are all about cutting loose, living it up. But do you really want to return home feeling worse than when you left?
A far more satisfying way to travel is to stay active, and fuel your body and mind with all the things that keep it running at its best. Try just a few changes in your travel habits and you'll be sharper and more effective on business trips, and more alert, comfortable, and energetic on vacation.
Can six days of all-you-can-eat seafood buffets and beach lounging do all that? Hardly.
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Meet the Quarterly Winners in the Beachbody Challenge! They won $5,000 and a trip to Los Angeles!
(Makes 4 servings)
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Nutritional Information (per serving):
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"Sara / I know exactly what you mean. I think that I would fall into the group of peolpe that just quit. My whole life I have never finished anything. After reading your posts for a few months now and reading the book you suggested, I have had a personal re-birth. I have recommitted to my workouts and just recently signed up to be a coach. I want to change my life and not be a quitter anymore!! Thanks Josh!"
– Ian, dWBEhdjKM, PA
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