Grow the gap is a common term that we hear in the FI (Financial Independence) world. This term refers to “growing the gap” between what you make and what you spend. The bigger that gap, the more you are able to save, and with this increased saving we will be closer to the goal of FI and possible early retirement. This makes sense in the financial world, but how can this same term apply to the health and fitness world? I am going to explore how both of these terms can be used for your “Money” and your “Image”.
Growing the Gap when it comes to fitness refers to growing the gap between the amount of time spent in a seated position and the amount of time spent in the standing position. You should strive to spend more time standing throughout your day and less time sitting. We tend to spend time sitting more and more in our society. From car to work to car and then the return home to the couch, we spend a majority of our time in the seated position. The risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and orthopedic injuries all increase the more that we are sedentary. Standing versus sitting is likely to decrease all of these common health risks.
So you may tell yourself, “I’m active, I go to the gym for 60 minutes 5x a week”. This is a great start, the problem with this is that you are possibly in the seated position for the other 15 hours of your waking day. (Assuming you get 8 hours of sleep) That hour is important, but it will not make up for those other hours throughout the day.
Here are a few suggestions that I use to try and grow (or level out) the gap between sitting and other positions:
I am going to try and briefly discuss each of the following topics because there are entire books devoted to each of them. If you work in a profession where you are stuck sitting at a computer for a majority of your day, a standing desk is something you should invest in. Most companies will have or purchase a standing desk for you because of the science behind the benefits of standing vs sitting. Even if this is not the case, or you work from home, stacking a few boxes or using bed risers to raise a desk is a cost effective way to encourage more standing.
Go for a Walk
The benefits of just getting out and walking are huge on many aspects of your life. When it comes to reducing the amount of sedentary time, walking is one of the best methods. You don’t need to go for a jog or do some sort of intense workout. You don’t even need to walk for an extended period of time. Walking (especially outside) for 15-20 minutes a day will help you lead a healthier and happier life.
Sit on the Floor
When you do need to sit for a period of time, try using different positions than just a “normal” 2 feet on the floor position. If you are able to, sitting on the floor will help encourage movement and the want to move through various positions. I prefer to sit cross legged when I have to sit for an extended period of time. I will also choose to sit or knee on the floor when I am a guest at a house. The other benefit of sitting on the floor is the ease of access to performing soft tissue work on various parts of your body. A foam roller or tennis ball will keep you entertained for a long time while you watch TV from the floor of your living room.
Find Excuses to Walk/Stand
This one will be the game changer to “grow the gap” between your sitting and standing routine. Looking for built in ways to integrate walking into your day will make this practice mindless. You can set a timer on your phone or smart watch to get up every hour, you can make sure that you are drinking enough water throughout the day which will MAKE you get up more often to use the restroom, you can park at the back of the parking lot to encourage more time spent standing or take the stairs instead of the elevator. There are countless little ways to make an excuse to walk or stand more, you just have to find the ones that work best for you.
Hope these tips are helpful as you try to “grow the gap” in both the financial and physical meanings of the term.
Ian is a Certified Athletic Trainer, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Corrective Exercise Specialist and all around active person. Comment below to ask questions, give feedback or interact with him!