A blog by runners. For runners.

Are runners lazy?

are-runners-lazy

Fit. Ambitious. Insane.

Runners are used to being called a lot of things. Here’s a new one you probably haven’t heard associated with the sport: lazy.

It’s true. A recent, small study says that people who exercise are lazier on days they work out. As reported by Runner’s World, the research, presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, showed people do more leisurely activities on days they don’t exercise.

On days the participants worked out, they spent 8.8 percent of their other waking hours being active. On days they did not exercise, they spent a whopping 39.7 percent. of their waking hours moving around. This study supports the misconception that people often confuse getting regular exercise with leading an active lifestyle.

Experts speculate this happens because on days we exercise, we think we’re entitled to extra time on the couch. But many of us overcompensate for our workouts and spend too much time being sedentary. Recovery from hard runs and other intense workouts is important, but it doesn’t mean we should spend the rest of the day lounging around.

The dangers of not being active throughout the day

Several strong studies in the past few years have shown just how dangerous it is to be sedentary most of the day. Research shows people who sit for long periods of time have a higher risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The risk of these health threats starts after just four hours of sitting per day. This is bad news for anyone who works in an office — most desk jobs require 8 plus hours in a chair. The more hours you sit per day, the greater your risk.

What’s most surprising is that this risk is independent of how much exercise you get. For example, if you run a few miles every morning but then sit down — at your desk during work and in your recliner in the evenings — for hours each day, you still have a high risk of these dangerous medical problems. This is shocking news to most runners because many of us believe that running protects us from chronic diseases.   

Add activity to your life

But it turns out that running alone is not enough. You have to get in additional activity throughout the day to better protect your health. Experts say that reducing time spent sitting by 90 minutes each day can significantly reduce your risks:

  • Stand whenever you can. Instead of sitting while you chat on the phone, stand up and pace around. Rather than watching your kids play from a park bench, get up and walk the perimeter of the playground.
  • Take regular activity breaks during the workday. Set an alert to go off every hour while you’re at work. At the end of the hour, get up and move for a few minutes. Take a quick walk around your office — go chat with a coworker instead of emailing her, for example.
  • Limit lounging. Relaxing with a good book or your favorite TV show is perfectly fine, but don’t sit more than an hour at a time without taking activity breaks.

What do you think about this research? Do you compensate for running by being lazier later in the day?

Written by Jen Matz.