Health & Fitness Digest - July 7

In today's health & fitness digest:

  • Standing desks boost your productivity at work by 50%
  • Study shows that adding a mindfulness exercise while walking significantly helps with blood pressure and blood sugar
  • Study shows potential anti-aging benefits of Coffee

Standing desks boost your productivity at work by 50%

I've often talked about the perils of "too much sitting", and how people who work out every morning but sit for many hours during the day are LESS healthy than people who do NOT work out but spend most of the day on their feet.

A new study from Texas A&M university followed workers for a period of 6 months, and noted that those who used standing desks (i.e. spent the majority of their day standing) did almost 50% more work than their colleagues who spent the day seated.

What was also interesting was the fact that as the months went by and people got more used to using a standing desk, their productivity kept increasing more and more.

Standing is certainly better than sitting. However, staying in one position for long hours (even if standing) is unhealthy - the human body is designed for movement.

So if you do want to give the standing desk a try, place an uneven surface underneath which forces you to keep shifting your feet and posture (such as these). Better yet, you can use a standing desk equipped with a walking treadmill (although these tend to be on the expensive side).

Oh, and here's a bonus: the more time you spend standing, the more your core muscles are engaged, the higher your basic metabolic rate, the more calories you burn!


Study shows that adding a mindfulness exercise while walking significantly helps with blood pressure and blood sugar

Even though I'm a big fan of mindfulness (practicing it daily and recommending it to clients for lower nervous system stress, resting heart rate, cortisol and more), I was still surprised by the results of this study!

The study was simple: they took a group of people suffering from Type II Diabetes (often called "lifestyle acquired diabetes" because it is triggered by eating habits and lifestyle) and put them on a "3x per week 30min treadmill walking plan" for 12 weeks.

One group "just walked", while the other practiced a VERY simple mindfulness exercise while walking: focusing their minds on each and every step they took.

The results were significant:

- Both groups saw a drop in fasting blood glucose (sugar) and an increase in aerobic capacity (ability of muscles to use oxygen).

- But ONLY THE MINDFULNESS GROUP saw numerous additional benefits, including: a significant drop in HbA1c (most important blood sugar indicator), a significant drop in blood pressure, reduced arterial stiffness (how "hard" your arteries are) and a drop in cortisol (stress hormone).

I've talked EXTENSIVELY about mindfulness in the past - you can find all these articles here.

I personally use Headspace for my "guided mindfulness" practice. It also offers "walking mindfulness".


Study shows potential anti-aging benefits of Coffee

This one is a bit technical, but I'll attempt to simply it, so bear with me for a minute please :-).

Think of the cells in our body as computers. A computer needs 2 things to function: hardware (the physical bits and pieces) and software (what actually makes it function).

Just like a computer cannot function without software, our cells cannot function without DNA (our software).

The DNA in our cells is organized in something called "chromosomes".  

This is what a chromosome looks like under the microscope.

As you can see from the picture, chromosomes look a bit like shoelaces right? Those "shoelaces" contain the software for each cell in our body: if something happens to it, the cell will malfunction (just like your computer does), or dies.

The more cells die, the faster we age. This is how life is.

Now, look at your shoelaces: you see these plastic bits at the end of each shoelace? Their job is to prevent the shoelace from "unraveling". If you were to remove the plastic "cap", the shoelace will become unusable.

Our chromosomes also have "Caps" at each end, and just like the shoelaces, those caps stop the chromosome from "unraveling".

Those "Caps" are called "telomeres".

Bottom line: the longer our telomeres are, the slower we age. The shorter our telomeres, the faster we age.

Some things accelerate the "shortening" of our telomeres, including disease and oxidative stress (damage caused by inflammation, toxins, chemicals, over-stressing the body, not enough rest, etc). 

You've heard of anti-oxidants correct? the reason they are often recommended is because they "fight oxidative stress", helping your body repair the damage caused.

Ok I'll stop with the biology lesson here and tell you about this new study which tracked almost 5000 women over 30 years: this study presented evidence that the consumption of coffee is associated with "longer telomeres", which as we discussed above, is a VERY good thing.

We don't know yet "why" coffee does that - it probably has to do with the high anti-oxidant content of coffee, but that is yet to be proven by studies.

So go ahead and enjoy your coffee - piece of advice: focus on high quality, mold-free, pesticide-free coffee beans and avoid instant and commercial coffees (and artificial sweeteners and creamers please!).


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