The Truth About Standing Desks You Need to Know

The Truth About Standing Desks You Need to Know

The Truth About Standing Desks You Need to Know

The truth about standing desks you need to know…

We all know that sitting is bad for us. Heck, most of us feel it when we do sit for too long.

We feel our low back start to throb when seated on the plane. Or, our hip pain flare up when in the car for a long period of time. Or, the ache in our knees when seated at an event and we simply can’t stretch out our legs.

Some of these activities we can control while others, like sitting in front of a computer all day, we can’t. If you are one the many Canadians who has to work for a living, then you cannot not sit for your job.

Prolonged sitting has been linked to heart disease, a shorter lifespan, diabetes and cancer.

How to die quicker

One study compared adults who spent less than two hours a day in front of the TV or other screen-based activity, with those who logged more than four hours a day.

Those with the greater screen time/sit time had a nearly 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause, and about a 125 percent increased risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease – such as chest pain (angina) or heart attack.

What’s worse, is now they have found that spending a few hours a week at the gym or otherwise engaging in other moderate to vigorous activities does not seem to offset the damages that sitting does.

What does then?

Standing desks to the rescue?

For the past few years standing desks have been touted as the saviour to sitting.

These desks, which can be adjusted so you can work in either a sit or stand position, have become extremely popular (just Google “buy sit-stand desk” and you will get over 2 million hits).

But, do they really work? Does standing in one place do anything for your health?

Recently researchers from a Cochrane work group took a look at twenty different studies with a total of 2174 participants.

Their aim was to see if workplace interventions and changes actually helped, and if the participants sat less because of these interventions.

The variety of studies that were evaluated used different forms of interventions. Some used information and counselling to encourage people to move more through the day. Others looked at software, some at mindfulness training and almost half of all the studies assessed looked at the effects of active workstations (i.e. standing desks).

The truth about standing desks

What did they find? A big fat nothing.

They found that none of the interventions had any real impact on our sit time, and that sit-stand desks had “very low quality of evidence” that it reduced sitting at work in the short term (to date there are no long term studies).

The studies also revealed that sit-stand desks did not have any considerable effects on work performance, musculoskeletal symptoms (such as low back pain), or sick leave.

There were too few participants and too many poorly designed studies that no real data could be gleaned from them.

Some experts also argue that simply standing in one place is really no difference than sitting in one place.

There is no evidence that standing for four hours, as opposed to sitting, will provide you with health benefits.

In fact, both prolonged sitting AND standing are both shown to heighten your risk of enlarged veins (hello varicose veins).

What to really do

So, what do you do? How can you offset the ill-effects sitting has on the body?

Right now science does not have an exact answer for us. As indicated in the Cochrane study, more research, with a much larger sample group, for longer periods of time are needed.

In the meantime, we must move our bodies more. We have become a society of sitters. Whether it’s in the car, at a desk, or in front of the TV.

I think once we remember that our bodies are the machines that should be powering us through life, we will take the necessary steps (literally and metaphorically) to solve our sitting problem.

Until then, give me ten squats every time your butt hits a chair.

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Sexy Thighs Leg Workout

Sexy Thighs Leg Workout

Sexy Thighs Leg Workout

This leg workout is the BOMB! I thought, when we started, it would take 40-45 minutes tops… oops, 55 minutes later we were done.

Poor loving husband was done in more ways than one too.

This is the perfect leg workout for anyone looking for:

  • A kick a** leg workout
  • Stronger legs
  • Toned looking thighs of a goddess
  • A core workout without having to do one damn crunch

I am in love with this leg workout and I am so happy to get out there to you!

Sexy Thighs Leg Workout

Tools needed:

  • A sturdy chair
  • A pair of moderate-heavy dumbbells
    • Bodyweight – 5lb: Beginners
    • 8-10lb: Intermediate
    • 12-15lb: Advanced to freaking hardcore

 

Sexy-Thighs-Workout-Full-Workout-Fitness-with-PJ

 

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How to Improve Your Sleep

How to Improve Your Sleep

Sleep provides amazing benefits to the body.

  • It lowers stress
  • Improves our mood
  • Helps maintain and promote a healthy body weight
  • Improves our athletic performance and coordination
  • Increases our ability to pay attention and remember new information

But, not a lot of us are getting enough sleep.

In 2011 researchers from the Université Laval released their data that revealed that 40% of Canadians suffer from a sleep disorder.

Our brothers and sisters south of us aren’t doing any better either. The National Sleep Foundation (along with two government agencies) estimated in 2012 that 40 billion Americans suffer from a chronic sleep disorder.

HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP

Dr. Heli McPhie, naturopath with The Village Clinic, chatted with me about the best ways to fall asleep and stay asleep.

She covered:

  • Why we aren’t sleeping?
  • The one thing you can do RIGHT now to help you sleep better.
  • What are DHEA levels and why they are important to help you sleep?
  • Sleep hygiene – how this plays a HUGE role in falling asleep.
  •  What tests should you be taking if you have problems sleeping.
  • What natural products are there on the market that will help us sleep, and do they really work?
  • How does she coach her clients to better sleep?
  • PLUS, she answered some great questions from the audience.

ABOUT DR. MCPHIE

Dr. Heli McPhie - Fitness with PJ Blab/Blog

Dr. McPhie’s passion for medicine and healing began at a young age growing up in southern Africa. Building on her love of the natural world and science, Dr. McPhie completed an undergraduate degree in biology at McGill University in Montreal.

She then went on to complete a further four years of study in Naturopathic Medicine at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.

After two years of clinical practice in Toronto, Dr. McPhie returned to Vancouver in 2000.

Since then she has operated a successful family practice, seeing patients of all ages on the west side of Vancouver. She opened her own practice, The Village Clinic, in 2011 in Tsawwassen.

The Village Clinic has since expanded into a collaborative interdisciplinary clinic.

Dr. McPhie treats a wide variety of conditions and ages including digestive disorders, allergies, anxiety, depression, sports injuries, immune disorders, skin conditions, autoimmune disorders, and many other chronic conditions.

The clinic caters to walk in clients and holds flu prevention clinics. Dr. Mcphie utilizes many modalities of practice including nutrition, homeopathy, botanical medicine, use of vitamins and minerals and acupuncture.

 

CLICK PLAY BELOW TO LISTEN TO THE BLAB INTERVIEW

  

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10 Tips To Avoid The Flu

10 Tips To Avoid The Flu

If there is one thing we can all universally agree on, it’s that getting sick bites. (That, and Donald Trump needs to take a long walk off of a very short pier… and soon.)

No one likes getting sick, no one has time to get sick, and no one chooses to be sick.

But, getting sick is like the schoolyard bully. Pretty soon, one day or another, it will pick on you.

Right now we are in the thick of the flu season and if the schoolyard bully has not kicked your butt yet, you probably know someone who has had theirs kicked.

The Stats

In Canada the active influenza season starts in November and ends in March (Public Health Agency of Canada). Flu viruses constantly change, with a new and fresh seasonal flu appearing each and every flu season.

It’s like the latest fall fashion, minus the Instagram account.

The flu seems to be picking up steam too. During the past five years, incidents of people being admitted to the hospital due to influenza-associated problems have increased at a staggering rate.

During the 2011–2012 flu season there were a total of 1,151 adult hospitalizations in Canada (an adult hospitalization is classified as anyone over the age of 20 years).

Flash forward to the last year’s flu season and there were 6,720 adult hospitalizations. (Public Health Agency of Canada).

That’s a 484 percent increase in less than five years. Wow.

To help you avoid the flu, I recruited naturopath Dr. Heli McPhie of The Village Clinic in Tsawwassen to provide us with her best tips to fight back and stay healthy.

10 Tips to Avoid the Flu

1/ Keep yourself fit.

First and foremost flu prevention starts with a healthy body and mind. So exercise regularly (my personal favourite tip), take your supplements, eat well, laugh often (in other words, don’t let stress get the best of you), quit smoking (if you smoke), and rest.

Funny getting sick quote - Fitness with PJ

2/ Keep it clean.

Her next tip is one we hear from all health professionals all the time: wash your hands.

Because we touch our faces an incredible number of times in a day, it is vital to constantly keep our hands clean.

In addition, she also recommends that you teach your children to wash their hands before eating.

HOW TO FIGHT GERMS 

How to wash your hands - fighting the flu Fitness with PJ

3/ Sneeze here please.

If you do happen to catch a cold, or the flu, be sure sneeze into your “sneeze pocket” – that’s your elbow, not your hands. This will reduce the spread of the flu virus, which is an important part of flu prevention.

You can also help reduce the spread of the flu virus by not sharing food or drinks, straws, and utensils. Also, say no to double dippers and remember to toss those tissues.

4/ Oh thank you for coming to work sick today! We appreciate it – said nobody ever.

If you are sick, make sure you stay at home, too. Don’t be a hero and go to work. You are only spreading the virus to those around you, which is not as appreciated as you may think.

[bctt tweet=”I’m sick. Looks like I will be laying in bed all day. Oh wait, I’m a mom.”]

5/ All you need is love.

Take the time you need to care for yourself. Being a wee bit selfish is okay because if you aren’t well, you cannot be there for those you care for and who may need you.

6/ MD or ND.

If your symptoms are severe, or you are worried, check in with your doctor or a naturopath and then rest, drink plenty of fluids and eat healthy (such as clear veggie and/or chicken soups).

Also chat with your MD or ND about other ways to prevent the flu, such as the flu vaccine.

7/ Sleep.

Sleep well and rest.Sleep and rest is vital for maintaining good overall health and, in turn, a healthy immune system.

I learned this one the hard way myself. Last Christmas I was not resting properly and was burnt out and stressed out, and by Christmas morning I was sick as a dog.

And, big tip, if sleep is an issue for you, book an appointment with Dr. McPhie; she’s brilliant with sleep problems.

My 3 unconventional tips to sleep better.

8/ Chill out.

The next step to fighting the cold and flu is to simply relax. Reducing stress levels will keep your immune system strong and healthy.

Find time, every day, to relieve and reduce your stress. Your body will reward you and it will be strong enough to fight the cold and flu virus.

The BEST tips to beat stress.

9/ Get a protein fix.

Research shows that diets that are too low in protein can deplete the immune system. Make sure you get protein-rich foods throughout the day, such as fish, eggs, tofu and yogurt.

Click here to discover my top protein powders.

10/ Care is absolute. Prevention is ideal. 

And, Dr. McPhie’s final takeaway: prevent first because it is always easier to prevent than cure.

 

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Insomnia – 3 Unconventional Tips to Sleep Better

Insomnia – 3 Unconventional Tips to Sleep Better

When I was a teenager my father nicknamed me  “mattress back”. It was his subtle way of letting me know that I slept too much.

Being a teenager I didn’t bat an eye at his sarcasm (sarcasm kinda runs in the family), and nor did I fully appreciate my ability to fall asleep and STAY asleep.

Flash forward 30+ years later and oh how I crave to have a bit more of that mattress back teen in me again.

The Science of Sleep & Insomnia

Sleep provides amazing benefits to the body.

It lowers stress and improves mood. It helps maintain and promote a healthy body weight, it improves our athletic performance and coordination, and it increases our ability to pay attention and remember new information (1).

In 2011 researchers from the Université Laval (2) released their data that revealed that 40% of Canadians suffer from a sleep disorder.

Our brothers and sisters south of us aren’t doing any better either. The National Sleep Foundation (along with two government agencies) estimated in 2012 that 40 billion Americans suffer from a chronic sleep disorder (3).

That’s a lot of sleepy, cranky people gripping their Grande cups fairly tightly.

All the beans in Columbia won't make me a morning person. - Bella - Fitness-with-PJ-blog

 

3 Tips to Sleep Better


1/ Get out of bed. 
A couple of years ago I went to the UBC Sleep Disorder Clinic because my sleep is so bad. It was both educational and entertaining.

Educational, because I learned some techniques that have helped me, and entertaining because loving husband fell asleep while in the waiting room when I was getting my assessment done.

He, apparently, has no problems with sleep.

After a 90-minute examination and assessment my doctor (who looked liked he was suffering from his own specialty himself) diagnosed me with insomnia.

To this I thought “no shit”.

He then further identified that I had “poor sleep hygiene”. Right away I got defensive because I thought he was telling me that I wasn’t bathing properly.

But, apparently sleep hygiene is “all the behavioural and environmental factors that precede sleep and may interfere with sleep” (thank-you Wikipedia), and well, my hygiene sucked.

My first sleep hygiene sin was that I lie in bed until I eventually fell asleep (this sometimes taking up to 2-3 hours), and then when I woke up in the middle of the night I lie there again and wait for sleep to take me.

It’s not like I was mulling on my problems while lying there though. I thought I was doing the right thing by practicing deep breathing and meditation.

I wasn’t. Experts do not recommend this.

Instead, they recommend if we can’t fall asleep after 15-20 minutes to get out of bed and go read or watch television, and stay out of bed until we are sleepy again.

The same goes if we wake up in the middle of the night. Get out of bed, do something that is not mentally stimulating and when you are tired go back to bed.

Lying there and trying to fall sleep (willing yourself to fall asleep), is counterproductive and the harder you try the more elusive sleep will become (4).

 

2/ Decrease your sleep window. Another technique the UBC Sleep Clinic taught me is to decrease my sleep window, or how long I am in bed.

I was of the opinion that if I went to bed early I would get a good night’s sleep. My sleep journal suggested otherwise.

Going to bed when we’re not sleepy sends the wrong signal to our brain. It messes with our circadian rhythm (our internal timer that let’s us know when we should be awake and asleep), and this in turn makes it harder for us to fall asleep.

While I thought I was sleepy what I really was was fatigued, tired and exhausted.  Not sleepy though.

So, my thinking of going to bed early was actually diminishing my ability to fall asleep.

Being awake longer will actually lead to a quicker, deeper and more solid sleep. Don’t worry, though. What you aren’t doing is decreasing your time actually sleeping. Instead, you are decreasing the amount of time awake in bed.

Of all the tricks I learned from UBC and other sleep experts that I have interviewed through the years this has by far helped me the most.

 

3/ Go to bed and get up, same time, everyday. No matter what day it is keep your same sleep cycle. I now go to bed between 11-11:30pm every night and wake up around 6:30am every morning.

When I don’t follow this regime I suffer sleeplessness in the evening. You need to keep your biological clock set and maintain that time – even on the weekends and when on holidays.

In addition you cannot store sleep up. Example, sleep longer on the weekend to make up for missed shut-eye during the week. Experts all say that this horse-shit (well, they don’t actually say that word, but I know they are thinking that).

And, finally, contrary to popular belief you don’t need 8 hours of sleep. It differs for everyone. Some need more, some need less. Only a sleep diary will shed the light on how much you need.

Find out how your sleep pattern is with a sleep diary. The Sleep Foundation has this 7-day Sleep Diary PDF online. Click here to access it and try it – it might offer some valuable information to you.

 

References:

(1)    http://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need

(2)    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110908104005.htm

(3)    http://www.statisticbrain.com/sleeping-disorder-statistics/

(4)    http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/cant-sleep-when-to-get-out-of-bed

(5)   Behavioural treatment for insomnia, Rocky Garrison, PhD, CBSM

 

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Science Says: Best Workout To Lose Belly Fat

Science Says: Best Workout To Lose Belly Fat

Have you noticed, after the age of 40, that things shifted in the body? It is now easier to gain inches around the middle (and elsewhere!) than it is to lose them?

Why is that?

Well, if you are a woman you can thank the decline of the hormone estrogen (read study here).

This is a natural fat-burner for us and it also dictates where our fat is distributed, and now with middle-age upon us the distribution is happening around our mid-section.

And, if you are a man you can thank lower testosterone levels as you get older.

But, there are other factors involved as well and include:

  • Poor sleep
  • Eating crap (scientific term)
  • Eating too much crap or the good stuff
  • Stress (Our stress hormone cortisol loves to pack on the pounds around the mid-section. Now, it’s not being an a-hole, the body is simply doing what it is meant to do – protect us. And in this case protect our internal organs.)
  • Not exercising enough AND not exercising the right way (hence today’s blog)
  • Listening to Donald Trump’s over bloated ego while also watching his equally pretentious hair piece

Funny Donald Trump hair photo - Fitness with PJ blog

What Does Science Say

In a study released by Harvard researchers (Obesity, 2014) they found that men who did 20 minutes of strength training a day had a far less of an increase in abdominal fat than those who spent an equal amount of time doing aerobic activities.

Now, this study wasn’t all bad news for the aerobic group.

The men who performed the daily aerobic activity actually lost more total body weight than the weight training men did, BUT they were unable to stop their waistlines from growing. Their middle-age paunch kept on growing while they keep on running.

That is pretty darn interesting, wouldn’t you say?

Moral of the research: twenty minutes of pumping weights works far better on reducing the ol’ belly fat than twenty minutes of running does.

What About Us Ladies?

If you are a woman, you are probably thinking the same thing I did when I read the study “What about us?”. What about women?

Kathryn Schmitz, a professor at the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania, performed a similar study with premenopausal women and found the results to be similar in women.

Great news.

More Research To Get You Lifting

Looking beyond losing belly fat the Journal of Diabetes Metabolic Disorder (April 2015) reported that a combination of diet and strength training was far more superior at losing body fat , than aerobic alone, or aerobic with diet.

This study included both men and women, ages 18 years to 69.

Strength training for weight loss just isn’t for us middle-aged folk either.

In a study published in PubMed (JAMA Nov 2014) it was found that a combination of aerobic and strength training was the best tool to fight adolescent obesity.

Why Is Pumping Weights So Good For Weight Loss?

One of the explanations as to why strength training is the best weapon against fat (when we get older), is because we have lost some of our muscle mass.

Losing muscle mass is a natural occurrence with age (as is losing our minds, our ability to read the small print and our inability to tolerate loud music in a restaurant).

Most of us will lose between 5-7 pounds of muscle each and every decade and ladies after the age of 30 we will also see an increase in our intramuscular fat (that nasty and dangerous fat that is located throughout the skeletal muscles and has been associated with conditions such as insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes).

Now, because of this loss of muscle mass our metabolisms decrease (significantly), and with that comes a body not able to burn calories and fat like it used to and followed after that is the middle-aged spread.

But, there is a very easy way to offset this.

How Do I Increase My Muscle Mass & Lose The Belly Fat

Perform a regular strength training program and I’m not talking about a workout par sae.

You want a full strength training program that addresses stability, core, balance and mobility, while also progressed each week so that you continue to see changes in your fitness and your body composition.

Need ideas? Check out my YouTube channel, www.yourtube.com/fitnesswithpj.

Experts recommend 2-3 times a week strength training (I recommend 3 times, especially if you are a woman over the age of 40 who wants to lose weight), accompanied with 2-3 times a week aerobic activity, and HUGE daily doses of daily walking, stretching and basically moving the body as much as you can, as often as you can.

However, if fat loss is your goal (especially belly fat) you want  weight training as your main activity.

 

Click here if you are a woman over the age of 40 and are new to exercise and want to start building a body you love.

 

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