Quality Lifestyle for Office Worker

by TONY OLEJNICKI inspired by Dr James Levine – ‘Just Stand Up’

Consider your sitting day, typically 8-10 hours for most of people in developed World.

Do you develop sluggishness of the brain and wandering thoughts after a couple of hours in your office chair?

Most office workers do, no matter how much energy that you bring to the office at the beginning of the day.
You may have noticed that even a very cheerful and busy office becomes quiet a couple of hours in to a working day. On the surface everybody is busy focusing on the computer screen. But are they?

You start dozing off and start to surf the Internet mid-afternoon, not because you find your job boring, that may be the case also, but because your mind has been rendered sluggish by your motionless body.

And this is just the prelude to the litany of medical illnesses

From evolutionary aspect, the office chair is the most unnatural contraption for a human being, no matter how stylishly designed and how ergonomic. Ergonomic design is a perverted concept, making you more comfortable to survive the chair for longer in detriment to your health and well-being. The ergonomic chair facilitates the compulsion for an unhealthy habit of prolong sitting.

I understand that very well because I was in this situation for many years, plagued by chronic high blood pressure and a high level of bad cholesterol. This was despite optimized nutrition and regular vigorous exercise as prescribed by the old school of exercise physiology.

So what is the problem with sitting, it feels nice, comfortable and restful after-all?

“We all have sense of well-being and capacity for happiness but sitting suppresses all that. In fact, sitting is more dangerous then smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting” (1)

Prolong sitting in a chair is a critical trigger for obesity for 28% of the Australian population and overweight for other 35%. In the USA these figures are even higher.

It is well understood by science that sitting all day is lethal. You are literally sitting yourself to death, taking 22 minutes of your life expectancy for every hour of prolong sitting.

The Quality Lifestyle is a countermeasure to the office chair effects.

What is Quality Lifestyle?

  • Quality Lifestyle is a universal value, a way of active, meaningful living and being comfortable with it.
  • Caring for you body and mind in a proactive way.
  • Working towards healthy longevity.
  • Mastering the body energy through through good Quality Lifestyle practices.
  • Understanding and experiencing meaningful life adventures to stimulate and activate brain functions and life sustaining metabolic processes.

Healthy body is a prerequisite to healthy mind

In a simplistic way, the brain is your center to store, retrieve and process information, when stimulated by body sensors. Your body not only hosts the brain but all the sensors required for a fully functional brain. The body is your life engine, where most of the action occurs and vital decisions are being made.

Quality Lifestyle is not about money, glamour or privilege, it is about your attitudes. Of course, having comfortable income can help to achieve Quality Lifestyle. The Quality Lifestyle cannot be purchased but must be acquired.

Surprisingly Quality Lifestyle is easily achievable for most of us, and it is the holy grail to happiness and successful life

Physiological Fitness

The physiological fitness is the most important component of Quality Lifestyle. In the old school of exercise physiology there was a huge emphasis placed on vigorous exercise. It was believed to activate metabolic processes and helping to stay lean and healthy. Vigorous exercises however are hard and often ineffective, counterproductive and not sustainable in a long term. The proof is in the obesity rates and the fact that most of people are unable to do it.

Current research in exercise physiology has turned upside-down the way we will understand fitness within next few years, despite most personal trainers still supporting the outdated approach. Vigorous training is indispensable for preparation for endurance events and competitive athletic training.

The research by a leading worlds exercise physiologists including Dr Marc Hamilton(2) from University of Houston demonstrates that muscular and skeletal systems require continuous stimulation, and not just 30-60 minutes of vigorous exercise per day.

As soon as we sit down in the chair for extended period of time, the muscles get into a stage of inactivity seriously affecting most of organs, which require stimulation.

Endocrine system, your chemical factory producing vital life supporting substances such as insulin, must be stimulated to function properly. So two hour walk a day in conjunction with appropriate sitting management and nutrition is more beneficial for health, fitness and weight control than intensive vigorous exercise. Besides, it is a realistic and achievable goal.

A person, who weights 80kg, runs 10km in 1 hour and sits 10 hours per day will burn 1970 calories. Despite extreme athletic effort of 10km run, this persons life expectancy will be reduced by 2.2 years over a period of 1 year due to prolonged sitting.

However if the same person moves at work for 8 hours instead being motionless, spends 60 minutes to cook and eat a healthy meal and walks briskly 10km would burn 2030 calories, will not reduce life expectancy and will improve physiological fitness and health indicators such as blood sugar level and blood pressure.

Most healthy people are able to walk 10km per day but not running. Your sacrifice would be missing 2 hours of your favorite TV reality show. This is not a huge sacrifice by any standard in exchange for Quality Lifestyle in contrast to acquiring sedentary disease and shortening life expectancy.

How To Loose Weight and Become Fit

It simpler than you think but it requires commitment to yourself, determination to succeed, consistency, a total awareness of your body and understanding of metabolic processes

The best start, if you are serious about health, fitness and losing weight, is to understand the body processes and how to deal with them. The book by James Levin, Get Up (1) does exactly that and it would be a good deal.

In the nutshell the answer to weight loss, fitness and health is a combination of mobility with appropriate nutrition and right timing.

The immobility is a major cause of diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol level, heart disease, softening of skeleton, stiffening of arteries and increased level of triglycerides. It starts early in the high school with excessive sitting periods in a comfortable ergonomic chair, and it accelerates with office based work. The more comfortable the chair is, and the longer are your sitting periods, then the weaker and the more unbalanced your muscles become.

The most vital muscle group in your body are core muscles and they will deteriorate from prolonged sitting first manifesting with lack of abdominal definition followed by with large bellies. Unbalanced and weak core muscles are the primary cause of back pain. Surprisingly these muscle are the easiest to develop and maintain.

Big muscles in legs and arms are vital to combat high blood sugar levels by using glucose created by insulin after each meal. If not used up, it creates insulin intolerance and diabetes. There is clearly understood relationship between diabetes and mortality caused by prolonged sitting.

Office workers are the most vulnerable sector of working people due to sedentary nature of the work. Most people participating in modern society cannot effort to stop working, but they can employ suitable easy countermeasures to prevent diseases and premature death.

Premature death and obesity are too distant to most of people until they sneak up on you and then it is too late to deal with the consequences, in particularly with the first one

The Steps to Quality Life

Reduce Stress

The most important step is to get rid of chronic stress, which stimulates production of cortisol. Uncontrolled cortisol makes you eat more, feel sadder and angrier, gain weight and sit even more. This creates a vicious cycle of sit-eat and deepening depression. Obese people are discriminated by society, creating even more depression and exaggerating their sitting cycle, whereby less sitting would have probably prevented their obesity.

Cortisol is an evolutionary artifact. It was vital to the survival of our ancestors when chased by sabre-tooth tiger. To be able to escape under stress, the body releases adrenaline to trigger fright and flight response. The waste product is cortisol, which the body can expel in an acute situation. However, during chronic stress in an office environment, the amount cortisol, created as a response, is huge and never ending. It becomes a serious poison for the system elevating levels of blood sugar and triglycerides, a deadly combination. So the office chair, your boss or bullying workmate are more dangerous for you than the sabre-tooth tiger.

Get Good Sleep

Sleep is second most important factor in muscle recovery and bone maintenance. During sleep the body clears proteins associated with dementia and optimizes insulin release. Most important, we dream during the sleep, which consolidates the memory and repairs neural connection.

Keep Moving

Keep moving continuously and measure your activities. When you sit and stir at the computer screen your body is like an idling engine. Sitting is associated with elevated sugar levels and diabetes, hardening arteries and many other sedentary conditions. The inactive muscles are under-stimulated and break down and get replaced by fat tissue.

Take opportunity to move at work, on the way to work, after work, while shopping and use as few work saving devices as possible. This behavior kicks in your Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT), burning brown fat without specific exercise. You will be really surprised how much weight loss is possible to achieve just with NEAT. Use free and easy apps such as S-Health on your smart phone to measure your activity.

Eat Well

Final countermeasure to combat sitting effects is appropriate nutrition and eating control. Food is essential fuel to power your body, however too much of wrong food at the wrong time will impede your best effort.

Innovative Motivational Program

It is more accessible and achievable then you think
It give you licence to Quality Lifestyle
There is no vigorous training involved, just a commitment to yourself

My experience as a high-altitude-training exercise-physiologist, working with Himalayan high altitude climbing and biking adventures, demonstrates that any healthy office worker can achieve sufficient fitness level within 3-6 month preparation program to climb 6000m mountain or cycle 2 weeks at altitude above 3500m.

I have experienced that motivational program sustained all our clients for the duration of the preparation program and beyond. In addition metabolic benefits and inspirational achievements, carried over motivation for at least a year for most of participants.

Imagine look on the faces of your friends bragging about the cruise holiday or ‘doing France’ when they find out you climbed 6000m mountain in Himalayas or cycled in Himalayas and experience ancient Buddhist culture.

During the program we work with our clients on Quality Lifestyle practices, physical preparation and nutrition to help them to progress from zero to hero. The participants learn skills they once had in their teenage years; to prepare them for high altitude Himalayan adventure; to rejuvenate their bodies and minds.

We refer our clients for the ‘Being Alive’ medical health program where you will undergo a comprehensive health and fitness check including fitness level assessment and diabetes and heart disease risk assessment, so your adventure will be safe and you will get a good start to your Quality Lifestyle.

During the 3-months program all our adventure clients lose weight, improve endurance, flexibility and body perception sensitivity, environmental awareness and confidence. This allows success of the climb as well comfortable biking on unpaved tracks in Himalayas.

After return from the adventure, all your health indicators will improve and health risk factors will diminish as result of the program. Your fitness will skyrocket and your Quality Lifestyle will be at highest level of your life.

Tony Olejnicki – an engineer, writer, motivator and exercise physiologist specializing in high altitude training – is the creator of IMA (Infinite Mountain Adventure), an inspirational company helping professional working in an office environment to improve life quality and experience a motivational Himalayan adventure.


      (1) James Lavine-Get Up!: Why Your Chair is Killing You and What You Can Do About It, Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (July 29, 2014)
      (2) Dr Marc Hamilton Video: