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Too much sitting, too little exercise may accelerate biological aging (sciencebulletin.org)
457 points by devinp on Jan 19, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 311 comments

If the headline read "people with advanced cellular age exercise less" no one would read it, but it's a more plausible interpretation of the data.

I was inclined to disagree, but seeing the populations involved are elderly, I think you're likely correct. It would be interesting to see what the data shows in younger populations, when almost everyone is able to exercise.

The data always turn out the same way. Healthier people exercise more. Sicker people exercise less.

One person sees sick people sitting and concludes that they are sitting because they're sick. Another person concludes that they're sick because they're sitting.

We need better-quality studies to really determine if sitting makes people sick.

"We need better-quality studies to really determine if sitting makes people sick"

This. A thousand times this. I ask because as a programmer I spend roughly 10-12 hours sitting at work and roughly 3 hours at home, with maybe an hour of walking each day, and I would like to know if I am prone to aging and being sick more due to my sitting habit or its just wrong interpretation of data and there is no significant correlation.

I think if you are walking a solid hour a day every day you are getting your exercise just fine. Even half an hour a day of walking is good.

There are studies suggesting that exercise does not totally cancel out the damage caused by long hours of sitting.

Alternatively, you can use a standing desk, or switch between a sitting and a standing desk. That way you have an additional litte exercise during the working hours.

I've read so many (anecdotal) stories about standing desks doing a number on knees and ankles that I think I'd rather go in a tanning bed than get one.

Everyone seems to think going all-in is the only option...I have a standing desk and stand maybe 33% of the day at most. The real issue is likely just taking a break from sitting and walking around the office every hour or so. When standing I am much more likely to walk around in the first place.

I have used a standing desk for several years now. Probably standing/sitting 60/40. For a few years it was 80/20. Any issues I had where primarily related to my feet. Some good supporting sandals fixed that. Other than that I practice martial arts 2x1.5 hour a week quite intensively. Walk to work and back 40 min/day. I now control my weight easily and am much healthier and alert. Sleep one hour less per day, and still feel great.

Moderation in all things, I built my own standing desk because I wanted a huge work space and it to be higher than the usual.

I sit/stand about 50/50 (30 minutes before switching), I use a panel timer (xfce) to remind me to switch and it works great.

Do these issues also occur when you switch between standing and sitting?

(I suspect that the real issue is neither sitting nor standing, but monotonicity.)

In my experience -- again, completely anecdotal --, investing in a high quality office chair, mattress and set of pillows goes a long way towards less joint pain/damage. Standing desks just move the damage lower down.

the pain on ankles is real if your floor tends to be hard. Using a soft mattress helps somewhat.

Yeah that's what I recall aas well, even think I saw it here on HN. Consensus was along the lines of 'an hour of exercise every night cannot cancel out the damage done by sitting down continuously for 8 hours' and the remedy 'interrupt sitting evrey hour or so, e.g. by a breif walk'.

"Conclusion: Prolonged sedentary time was independently associated with deleterious health outcomes regardless of physical activity."


Found via https://blog.fitbit.com/sitting-hurts-fitbit-data-suggests-y...

There is a very convincing one where they compare health outcomes of bus drivers, who sit all day, and conductors.

London transport workers study -- coronary heart disease and physical activity of work: http://www.epi.umn.edu/cvdepi/study-synopsis/london-transpor...

Devil's advocate: Wouldn't a person who prefers sitting be more likely to keep a job as a driver rather than conductor?

An unhealthy person might think, "Ugh, I'd have to be on my feet all day." And a healthy person may not see that as a major negative.

Not everyone can be so choosey about the job they get

But some can, and maybe it's enough to impact the study. Or maybe not.

Except they control for overall health in these types of studies.

For something measuring physical activity they won't have participants that are mobility limited. They will only use people who are able to be active. Practically all medical studies put participants through an exam before accepting them to ensure they don't have conditions that would skew the results.

I don't think we need more studies to draw some useful conclusions, and sadly those conclusions do not bode well for the sedentary lifestyle. We know a lot about how human bodies evolved, both during our time as a species and our precursor species. We can also observe hunter-gatherer groups still active today, which is far more indicative of what kind of activity level we are programmed to get. One recent study I read showed that a modern hunter-gatherer group got a little over 2h of moderate to intense physical activity per day, and this produced a negligible risk of any kind of cardiovascular disease while producing a similar lifespan similar to our own. Humans evolved in an environment of this level of physical activity and we require that to retain our physical capacity and stave off disease.

I don't understand what you mean by "better-quality studies" (in the context of this study). It seems to me that you're really looking for follow-up studies.

This study "assessed the association of sedentary time with leukocyte telomere length (LTL)" [0] - that's it.

Investigating causal relationships would be another study.

You're right about alternate interpretations/speculation, though.

[0]: https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/doi/10.1093/aje/kww196/...

We need better-quality studies to draw conclusions about causality. A correlation is just a correlation.

I didn't read the original study, so I don't know if it drew unwarranted conclusions about causality, but the Science Bulletin article certainly implied them.

If you haven't even read it, why would you assume anything about it?

I'm not clear on what assumption you are claiming I made. My point was about quality of evidence (see, e.g., [1]). Observational studies are considered lower-quality evidence than randomized trials.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC428525/

I see. I was under the impression that you were criticising this study in particular - apropos of assumptions.


Pickles will kill you! http://www.jir.com/pickles.html

I sit ~10 hours daily, including 2+ hours driving. I'm naturally skinny but haven't done much physical exercises in recent years ("busy"). Now, at age of 34, I'm starting to realize that my body won't last forever and finally started to exercise few times per week, after I found motivating enough guide¹. It amazing how much more energized it makes you feel.

[1] https://www.julian.com/learn/muscle/intro

I am in a very similar situation. I have started doing a fast walk in the morning.

I am looking into the no equipment, no gym style workouts that take 20 minutes.

I'd be interested to hear what you've found. I've bounced around to various things of varying quality. Youtube's got tons of stuff, but no coherent program. I did the Scientific 7-Minute Workout [0], which was surprisingly good for a lunch hour (when factoring in transit, cleanup and actually needing to eat, 7 minutes isn't too far off), but obviously one would hit a ceiling pretty quick. I've also found Never Gymless [1] to be good, but that was at a different time in my life (one where I was ten years younger).

[0]: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/09/the-scientific-7-mi... [1]: http://rosstraining.com/blog/never-gymless/

That NYT article doesn't talk about it, but the 7-minute workout can be repeated 2-3 times once you start hitting the ceiling with one pass.

I picked up two books off of Amazon. One book touts no gym, but requires a set of step planks and a pull up bar for some of the exercises listed.

The other book lists 100 exercises with no equipment.

I am starting out slow trying to put together a coherent workout from these two.

In the past when I've traveling, didn't have access to any equipment or didn't feel like running I've used the Sworkit app. It's free and allows you to pick time, type of workout etc. I've found it's better (at least for me) than trying to come up with an on-the-fly workout of my own.

I recently picked up You Are Your Own Gym, by Mark Lauren, which seems to be good for that.

I was in the same situation and started looking for videos on youtube and then finally curated a bunch of good ones and put it up here: https://www.flexit.co/

Nice, but if you have body fat then you still need another guide to lose it. I'd rather have a guide that deals with muscles and fat simultaneously.

From the linked website:

> Recognize that all these guys have low body fat, which helps reveal their muscles. You will not actually lose fat by lifting weights, so weight loss is a separate goal altogether.

> You will not actually lose fat by lifting weights, so weight loss is a separate goal altogether.

This is both true and not true. If you increase muscle mass, you increase your metabolism, which means your resting metabolic rate increases. However, as they say, abs are made in the kitchen, and a better diet is the quickest, most efficient way to drop fat. But, why not both? The easiest way to drop weight is to stop eating bread and sugar (including beer, i.e. liquid bread). Plus, there are dozens of other benefits to dropping grains and sugar.

> If you increase muscle mass, you increase your metabolism, which means your resting metabolic rate increases.

Yes, but not as much as people think [0]. It's about 5 kcals per lb. of muscle (compared to roughly 1 for fat). Your organs consume the vast majority of your calories. An extremely fit person can expect to burn maybe 50-100 kcals more a day than a fat one per pound. It's not nothing, but if you read men's magazines they make it sound like if you lift some weights, you can eat whatever you want.

This isn't to say there are not many good reasons to strength train, especially as you age. I just wish people weren't trying to sell benefits that didn't exist when there are so many that do exist.

[0]: https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/metabolismcon...

EDIT: I shouldn't say "50-100 per pound", I should say that a fit person can expect to burn 50-100 more than a fat person of the same weight, within a normal weight range.

This [1] book has great reviews and it addresses the body fat issue. It mentions that fat is actually good for building strength/muscle. So if health and strength are your primary reasons, this book may help with that.

1. https://goo.gl/OrXMdJ

I actually paired the ketosis diet (ruled.me) with shapiro's guide and lost most of my excess body fat while toning the important things. It's been about five months and the changes are pronounced.

Bonus, keto is kind of a brain booster too. Not dissimilar in effect from fasting except sustainable.

> You will not actually lose fat by lifting weights

Of course you can lose fat by lifting weights. Calories in < calories out = weight loss (hopefully fat). Any type of physical activity increases calories out.

You can, but for the majority of people living in western cultures, it's really easy to have your "calories in" be way too high, such that it's effectively impossible to exercise away with "calories out".

For most people, weight loss is first and foremost a calories in problem.

I've heard this so many times over the years and while it's beautiful and simple and conceptually right, it's so impractical that it's "wrong".

The body digests calories different depending on the source, e.g. eating an orange vs drinking orange juice. Going to the gym for an hour might burn a few hundred calories, which is about a snickers bar. These two combined means that adding the calories of your food vs the calories at the gym is a really bad way to lose weight.

Of course, I'm not a doctor and have no sources to back this up, other than reading the China Study 10 years ago. :)

I can help with that. You might be interested in this video which talks about why calorie content in food is not as useful as you might think: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRSeyCZwEUI&t=2s

Great video thanks for sharing.

> Calories in < calories out = weight loss (hopefully fat).

Nope. When calories in < calories out the body responds by reducing energy expenditure, not consuming the excess:



> Any type of physical activity increases calories out.

This may be true but that doesn't mean that physical activity has a measurable effect on weight loss:



Nope. Anybody who has lost weight can confirm eating less results in fat (and some muscle) loss.

Dieting while weight lifting in my experience just leads to various injuries. I don't mean the passing out while doing squats kind. I mean straining muscles in a painful way that can take the rest of the month to recover. Note that this was after ~5 months of training before I got the idea to try and lean out. Overall I just wouldn't recommend it. Maximum weight I would say is body weight, then it's more cardio than weight lifting.

Maximum lifting weight is going to vary from individual based on their experience and strength.

If your muscles take weeks to recover you should see a doctor. That could be rhabdo or some other condition. It should never take that long.

>If your muscles take weeks to recover you should see a doctor.

Are you talking about normal recovery after weightlifting? The OP was talking about muscle strains.

I've hurt muscles that then take a month to recover. It seems fundamentally different from tired muscles after a workout.

Exactly, it's not recovery. It's an actual injury. I had been working out consistently 4-5 times a week at a high intensity for at least 5 months straight before this occurred. I know what that kind of muscle soreness feels like.

Yup. And to be clear to anyone who thinks it's only overwork: I've had these injuries while training intensely, and I've had them after rest periods when I start again, or during non-intense training. Muscle injuries can happen in either circumstances, and they take a while to heal properly.

> Of course you can lose fat by lifting weights. Calories in < calories out = weight loss (hopefully fat).

But the problem is that you can't lift weights without consuming sufficient calories (in a sustainable way).

You can absolutely lift weights while consuming fewer calories than you burn. It's especially effective for new lifters and is often called recomp (losing fat while gaining muscle).

> Calories in < calories out = weight loss

Not necessarily, but the alternative is fat loss with greater muscle gain (b/c muscle has lower stored energy content per pound.)

Fantastic, thank you so much!

For almost a year I spent practically all day sitting in front of a PC monitor (used to work at home), with no exercise.

Then I developed pain in both knees, worse on the left knee. I figured that it was because of too much sitting, so I got a standing desk. In about a month, knee pains gone, completely.

Never even bothered to go see a doctor.

After standing for too long, I started having pains in my lower back. Solution? I got a bar stool, so I now alternate between standing and sitting.

What I learnt is that our body's joints (knee, elbow, waist, ankle, etc) were not designed to remain in one position for too long. Movement lubricates them.

>Solution? You said it yourself: "[...] our body's joints [...] were not designed to remain in one position for too long." Try a pomodoro-esque schedule (25 min work, 5 min rest) where you get up and move around, maybe do some stretches and warm up exercises?

I'm in my mid-40s. For about 15 years, I sat at a desk writing code and slowly dying. Three and a half years ago, I started running three times a week. Then, a little over two years ago, I switched to a standing desk. I've never looked back.

To avoid stiffening up, I play music (usually progressive house or something similarly rhythmic-but-not-too-distracting) into noise-cancelling headphones and let the music move me. Because I'm not standing still, I don't experience lower back pain, stiffness, soreness or anything else.

If I had to go back to sitting now, it would kill me.

[] NB I wrenched my back last autumn by twisting in a funny way while painting a ceiling with a roller on an extension pole. After a couple of weeks of Advil and an aggressive regimen of back exercises and stretches, my back pain was completely gone and I feel better than ever.

Yep. I'm usually listening to Frisky Radio for something that can help blot out the noise from the rest of the office, and give me a little energy.

I've been doing the standing desk for about 4 years now. I just bodged something together for my setup, but I'm thinking about investing in a VariDesk system instead. When I sit, I'll probably use an exercise ball instead of a chair.

My view might be classified as 'odd', but this is how I look at this problem, and this is what I ended up doing:

I do not mind living a decade shorter than those ones who are more active than me.

I have tried to be active, but could not fit it into my mentality. Note that I did not say my lifestyle, I said my mentality. I am unable to be active. I was not an active person a a kid, and I am not one as an adult.

If I aggregate all those activity hours together with all the stress about being more active (including following the effectiveness of standing desk news), it could maybe worth a couple of years of my life. I subtracted those years from that one decade, and decided that I am ok with not having that part of my life.

I continue programming 14 hours a day in the sitting style.

> Note that I did not say my lifestyle, I said my mentality. I am unable to be active.

This is a fixed mindset vs a growth mindset; that itself is the over-arching lifestyle choice you are making.

Getting in shape is painful, but after 6-8 weeks of a routine, your body adapts and it becomes much easier, even enjoyable to some people. In 2 months, you could have the data to know what your body is actually capable of.

> If I aggregate all those activity hours together.. it could maybe worth a couple of years of my life.

Do you really believe that? Would you tell this to a doctor, or teach this to a child?

I'm no expert, but a few reasons why its very unlikely a linear model applies here: 1) You increase risk of a life-ending event like a heart attack. 2) You are not combatting the effects of stress, which is suspected to be highly related to the feeling of time passing faster as we age. 3) Particularly as you age, your cognitive ability will decline relative to your potential. You'll be a worse programmer than you could be at 40+ - memory, psychomotor speed and executive function in particular will decline vs potential. Simultaneously you will be more likely to get dementia.

I think if you factor these things in your expected years, and expected quality years, of life would change significantly from your estimate. Further, there are plenty of ways to exercise that people consider to be an inherently good use of their time for a variety of reasons.

Except it's not about a decade. Good friend of mine died at 30 from obesity induced cardiomyopathy. Then we talk about quality of life. I run, lift, and generally workout because I want to maintain quality of life as much as length.

My Aunt is 95 and still runs 5k every day. Guess who isn't an invalid in her autumn years?

This. Quality of life also matters. There's a term I encountered: compression of morbidity, where the onset of chronic illnesses is delayed until one is close to death.

"Do squats when you're young so you can stand up from the toilet on your own when you're old."

You made a pretty big leap there from inactivity to obesity.

It's not a big leap from inactivity to cardiovascular disease, though.

Or diabetes.

Or a host of other diseases for which exercise is an often recommended preventative measure.

I didn't say inactivity was healthy, just the post you were responding to gave no indication that the poster was overweight, just inactive. And diabetes is related to weight, not activity.

It's related to both, actually, though primarily diet.

How much of your aunt's outcome was genetic predetermination? I'd wager the majority of it. You either have genetics that are tilted toward extreme longevity, or you don't. If you don't, nothing you can do will get you to 100.

Sounds more like a wager based on rationalizing laziness than a wager informed by knowledge of the research on the factors that contribute to longevity.

So what if she has the genes? You have no information indicating whether or not her active lifestyle added 1 year or ten or twenty or zero. We do know that the research shows a causal relationship between activity level and longevity.

> than a wager informed by knowledge of the research on the factors that contribute to longevity.

Not the longevity that gets you to 100. The stats on centennials shows it's genetics. - see the Forbes article covering the people studying it.

Yes it must be binary. No spectrum of benefits.

Smoking must cause cancer is the same kind of misleading nonsequitor. It misses the point. So no it "mustn't" be anything. It just is.

Cite your claims then.

Show me even one study that says reaching 100 is 100% due to genetics and no amount of dietary or lifestyle changes contribute in any way.

Genes are a good part of whether you get to 100. I'm less certain that genes alone contributed to the aunt being able to run a 5K at age 95. A large part of exercise is in my opinion more improving quality of life.

They OP's logic makes sense if you don't consider quality of life and energy levels. I find exercise makes me more energetic in general and improves clarity of mind.

Some other improvements (possibly attributed to placebo?) are really hard to put in words, but it feels like my body and mind just crave for energy release.

Have you considered trying out activities that you might enjoy for themselves, rather than mainly for "exercise" or because you "should", and try to optimize for enjoyment (not for exercise). Especially, gentle exercise can be a lot more pleasant.

e.g. many thinkers enjoy thinking on slow walks, especially through a park, countryside or bush/woods.

This is great advice. Try lots of activities until you find one you want to do, long term.

>I have tried to be active, but could not fit it into my mentality. Note that I did not say my lifestyle, I said my mentality. I am unable to be active. I was not an active person a a kid, and I am not one as an adult.

This is a very important point. What we do in youth affects how naturally we can do certain activities.

The only thing I'd suggest is not artificially limiting what "active" is. For instance, some people think it means jogging and lots of sweat.

Whereas my exercise is mostly periodic walks, looking at things and thinking, and then barbell exercise. The barbells are a significant mental puzzle as you work on the form and try to recruit muscles to apply more force to a bar moving in an efficient path off the ground.

My dad enjoys golf, which is mostly walking, and plotting how to get a ball to another point.

Some people enjoy bouldering, which mostly involves strategic thinking in terms of how to move across a course on a wall.

And there's many more things that care "active". Others in their replies have emphasized that your later years will involve premature cognitive and health decline, long before you die, if you're sedentary. And they're correct.

But telling you that alone won't change anything. So what I'm adding is to consider that their might be some activity that will help keep your body and mind in shape AND that you enjoy. Finding one might involve talking with a good athletic therapist, or just googling – but I expect there is something.

It's not just losing a decade of life. You are more likely to suffer cognitive decline earlier with a sedentary lifestyle. The mind is not independent from the rest of the body.

This issue that it's not just an exchange of years for being sedentary--the quality of your years will be significantly worse that that of active people--chronic pains, reduced mobility, etc.--and the difference will widen over time as you age.

Why don't you try very very short sessions of interval training some days (e.g. a few sets of burpees) and short lifting (say with a kettlebell) or isometrics (e.g. with a rubber band) sets other days?

This won't alter your lifestyle, and it may bring many health benefits with minimal effort. Plus you will experience mental benefits towards those long coding sessions.

You will change your mind when you're in your mid-40s. But by then it'll be too late. There's nothing worse (and in the US, more expensive) than a roster of debilitating health problems you're making a downpayment on right now with your lack of exercise and 14 hour sitting sessions.

It's good to know oneself and be ok with that. Props to you my friend but do think about the people that might want you in their lives a bit longer. They surely would appreciate the extra time.

Except on top of living a decade less, you'll also be riddled with health problems your entire life.

> I have tried to be active, but could not fit it into my mentality. Note that I did not say my lifestyle, I said my mentality. I am unable to be active. I was not an active person a a kid, and I am not one as an adult.

I'm not a physician at all, but this sounds similar to a friend who was finally diagnosed with thyroid hypofunction. She now gets hormone pills and is way more energetic. Do you also have low blood pressure? Can't stay up without two coffees in the morning?

It is not just 10 years less, it is a worse lifestyle as well. I am guessing you are overweight? You still have to do things outside, so you still do suffer.

davey, get up, do a pushup.

I know you probably can't do one, I've been there. Do a sissy pushup on your knees, until you can do more.

if you're stuck on a problem, the brain rush will feel good afterwards.

> I continue programming 14 hours a day in the sitting style.

But aerobic exercise might make you a better programmer:


I wonder how old you are (not asking though) and/or how long you've been sitting/programming 14 hours a day.

A decade ago, I could do the same. Now I wish I hadn't because my back and shoulders are so messed up.

Interestingly (maybe), I usually find standing less painful than sitting these days.

I wouldn't worry about it. Every year there's a study that contradicts the last one.

Coffee is bad for you, wait coffee is good for you. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/17/coffee-health-benef...

Vitamins are good for you, no wait vitamins are bad for you. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20161208-why-vitamin-supplem...

Being fat is bad, no, really being fat is actually perfectly fine. https://qz.com/550527/obesity-paradox-scientists-now-think-t...

No one can make up their mind so I stopped paying attention a long time ago.

Well, qz and huffpo can FRO in the first place...

> Every year there's a study that contradicts the last one.

That's from Astroturfing by <_INSERT_INDUSTRY_LOBBY_NAME_HERE_>

Every time a real study with facts comes out saying X_____ is bad for you, the Corporations and Special Interest Lobbyists working on behalf of X____ will astroturf the media with "No really, X____ is good for you"

X_____ = Coffee, Diary, Wine, Eggs, Wheat, Soy, Stevia, ..... you get the idea.

Required Viewing: Astroturf and manipulation of media messages | Sharyl Attkisson | TEDx => https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bYAQ-ZZtEU

Telomere length as presently measured in white blood cells is a measure of immune health before all other factors: how often are new cells turning up with long telomeres (thus how well is the thymus and bone marrow stem cell population doing), how often are existing cells dividing and shortening their telomeres while doing it (how much stress is the immune system under, how much war is it waging), how many senescent cells are hanging around lowering the average, that sort of thing.

Exercise is very well associated with better immune function. So not a surprising result beyond the fact that they actually managed to get a result at all, as telomere length measured this way is actually a pretty terrible metric of aging. The correlations with aging only show up in large populations, and even there you'll find as many failures to identify associations as successes in the literature. For an individual knowing your immune cell telomere length won't tell you a great deal that you don't already know, and nor will changes over time. The numbers will be all over the map, and won't compare usefully at all with other individuals in your circumstances, unless you have a few thousand of them to compare with.

If you want a decent biomarker that might actually prove to be actionable, DNA methylation patterns after the model pioneered by Horvath et al look fairly promising. (There's even a Florida company offering an implementation as a service these days).

The sitting question is generating a lot of ink in the research community. All sorts of large epidemiological studies have tackled the topic. I think it remains unsettled as to whether it is the sitting or whether it is the inactivity: decent arguments from data could be made either way. If pulling in data from the broader context, however, the inactivity looks more compelling. Accelerometer studies are becoming more common since the miniaturization and cost reduction that came with cell phones, and these are showing that even very low levels of exercise appear to make noticeable differences to outcomes in later life - at the level of housework and puttering around the garden.

I am fairly young, 22, mostly sitting in front of the computer, even sitting while studying. So it could be said I sit around 10 hours per day.

When I was younger, up until the end of high school, I used to do sports, but since I got to college, I simply stopped caring. My body is skinny, really skinny, I weight 61kg, and I had that weight for last 7 years. But one day I thought maybe I should do something, not for the looks, but for the feel of my body, and physical body exhaustion just feels healthy sometimes.

So I thought running might be what I am looking for. Any advice on that? I am sure someone is doing it so (with lower body weight), any advice or thought on that? Btw when it's not winter, I skate, especially in summer, I use to skate all night, for 5-6 hours.

If you're that skinny I'd really suggest weightlifting with a couple days of cardio (run, swim, dance, whatever). I'm assuming you're a man, but I'm a really skinny woman and weightlifting helped me put on 10 pounds of muscle. I feel really strong and amazing.

Agreed. Build up some strength, maybe double what you ever really need in your every day life, and everything just feels amazingly easy. It's like switching from an economy car to a sports car. Your body becomes fun to drive!

For anyone looking for a super easy to follow 2 day program, try Stronglifts 5x5. It's only big compounds movements (Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press, Overhead Press and Barbell Row).

You squat every workout which I find amazing. The first time I tried jumping to reach something high up after doing the program for 6 months, I almost lost my balance in the air because I wasn't expecting to go that high! It really builds up your base stats and then you can switch over to any program you like or keep building strength.

Stronglifts is a great program and the lifts in it are the basis for gaining strength and size. The 5x5 on deadlifts and squats soon start to get tough when the weight increases. I'd recommend Wendler 531 instead, I made much better progress with that.


There are some apps that calculate weights for you and show you what you need to do each session, I use https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.vandersw.w...

This is part of what keeps me distant from weightlifting. Everyone you talk to offers a different routine (admittedly, almost all of them are some combination of squats, deadlifts, etc., all of which are workouts I struggle with).

I should probably apply the same process as I have with frontend web frameworks... just pick one and roll with it, it will "workout" in the end.

I think people put to much emphasis on the program to follow. The real secret to progression in the gym is dedication. The guy who shows up 4 times a week for a year doing his own made up program is going to look better than the guy doing the latest program they are recommending online for 2 months then giving up.There isn't any perfect system or quick answers so I find its best to just do exercises you enjoy and set yourself little mini goals and work towards them.

+1. For me personally the way to keep things interesting is working towards measurable goals. Another thing that works well is getting involved with organized sports, the downside is schedule and overall time investment.

Thanks for the reply - both you and all others. I've been struggling with asthma lately which was quite a set back, but I think that's only more of a reason to try and get into better shape.

Almost any program will work well for a beginner. Don't overthink it. The important part of weight lifting is using proper form. Other than that, it's really just about picking it up and putting it down.

Isn't it like which language you code in, all are pretty much going to work, and if you want your project finished you better pick one. If you want to be fit, pick one, you can't go wrong with picking a popular program and sticking with it.

Don't overthink it. Just pick one and go.

I'm a big fan of 5/3/1 and Cube, but wouldn't recommend those (or any PL-oriented programs) to a complete noob especially if he/she is not looking to get into lifting per se.

Also, speaking from personal experience, "fitness" wise (and aesthetics as well) what works best for most ppl is mid-high rep type routine with plenty of bodyweight exercises thrown into the mix (esp pull ups and dips) + some cardio along the lines of the Jailhouse Strong program.

To [slightly] contradict myself :) - what PL-type routines do have going for them is measurable goals + constant progression.

My problem with Stronglift is that it's so boring. Nothing beats doing some isolated bicep curls. I know it's almost taboo here but that's what I recommend - feeling the blood rush into your muscles. You shouldn't stop doing squats, deadlifts etc but rather combine them with isolated exercises. I always look forward to the gym nowadays.

It gets boring after a while, no doubt about it. But for beginners, simply learning (really learning) to do the moves correctly will take a little while as they build up muscle memory and good habits. Once you're there and showing some good numbers, your body is ready for any program you like!

Agree, do strength work and basic cardio. If you run, also do some sprinting. You never have to run long distances in real life and strength work is very useful for life in general.

+1 for C25k

Pretty solid program to get started running.

After that, I'd suggest doing Bridge to 10K [1]

Surprisingly to me at the time, Bridge to 10K was way easier than C25k

[1]: https://blog.bluefinapps.com/about-bridge-to-10k/

AFAICT, all of the health benefits of running come in the first 5K or 10K. Running longer distances becomes detrimental. Save your joints, preserve your muscles and keep your body fat at a healthy level (especially important for women). Rather than increasing your distance, concentrate on increasing your speed.

Yes, recent studies indicate that the sweet spot for optimising benefits vs injuries rates is between 5K and 8K, varying a fair amount between people, and gets quickly worse after twice that.

BUT increase your speed very carefully, or you will hurt your knees possibly giving yourself a semi-permanent (recurring) injury or worse. Beyond a certain point injury rates shoot up with speed a lot more than any health benefits do, more so than with distance as it is easy to let your form slip when concentrating on speed, and in my experience the only advantages in doing 10K in 42 minutes instead of, say, 60 are bragging rights and getting finished & to the shower/pub/other faster afterwards!

Also note that those studies (well, the ones I've seen) compared like for like too (same pace over the distance, studying flat(ish) road racing or treadmill running. I find 16-to-20K trail running with a group (sometimes more of a "fast trek" than a run depending on terrain!) to work out much better for me than 10K road running at full pace.

Yep, starting running and creating and maintaining consistency in your workouts is way harder than slowly upping your mileage from 5k to 10k.

Absolutely, C25K was the best thing I ever did - Run 2x5Ks a week at lunch and a 10K at the weekend. Worked up to 10Ks about 3 or 4 weeks after first 30 minute run. It makes it pretty easy and I lost around 13 lbs from this alone.

I will take a look at this, thanks!

I will tell you what I tried when I was 22, and what I wish I had been told instead.

I was doing weight lifting and ended up developing really bad RSI. Most likely from a combination of a few things including excessive computer use. I stopped, and after that started running, not particularly successfully. That was on and off but not very successful.

Some things I did were good, others weren't. My hips started tightening up and I had joint issues. Lots of testing and alternations later:

#1 Don't eat processed foods or things that will cause a blood sugar crash. This messes up your energy levels and makes consistent exercise much harder. Bulking up, I don't have a good answer for, other than most Westerners are far, far larger than a human would be on a normal diet. Whether or not 61kg is too skinny depends in part on your height.

#2 Get a standing desk, and use it at least part of the day.

#3 Walk every day for at least an hour (much easier if you are in a walkable city; if I wasn't, I might consider a treadmill desk)

#4 Start doing body weight exercise - I recommend "You Are Your Own Gym" for an easy start. This means you can't make up an excuse to not go to the gym because you can do it right by your desk. In this case, it cured my RSI within weeks. Definitely one of the most incredible things that has happened in my life and completely unexpected.

#5 Use an elliptical for endurance or run occasionally.

The important thing is to build up your strength and flexibility without injuring yourself. You are 22 now, but consider if you will be able to do this stuff for the next 50 years.

This baseline fitness will also make it easier to do more active things without getting tired, whether it is mountain biking, running, kayaking, skating, tennis etc.

Here are three steps to gaining weight: First, get more healthy calories in your diet. Second, learn to think like a strong person and learn good form. Third workout 20 minutes 3 to 4 times a week and workout hard focusing on squats and dead lifts. A proper squat will make your whole body strong and you'll grow muscles you didn't know existed.

Some comments:

Other than adding nuts to my diet, I personally struggle with getting enough healthy calories so I can't advise. But you'll know you aren't eating enough if you start sleeping poorly or if you feel extreme fatigue after a workout.

To become strong and learn good form, start with lockouts and minimal motions (e.g., your first deadlifts should just be a few inches of motion). You can lift a lot of weight with a lockout and that gets you past psychological barriers. With your psychology in check you can then focus on form. To have the best form, study ballet.

> healthy calories

A calorie is a calorie. It is just a measure of available energy (1Kcal is about 4Kjoule). The energy itself does not vary.

What does vary is how fast the body processes and can use/store it. 600Kcal worth of food that has most of its calories in processed sugar will be processed and stored relatively quickly so you'll be hungry again sooner than after a 600Kcal meal that has most of its calories in protein or longer form carbs (or to some extent, fats) which the stomach takes longer to process and so keeps you feeling satiated longer.

Of course sometimes you want fast energy (before/during a run for instance) so small sugars are more desirable at those points - tailor your diet to your planned activity.

People who equate fruit and vegetables to "healthy calories" are conflating two things: the calories and nutrients. 250Kcal worth of fruit and veg is healthier than a 250Kcal Mars bar not because of "better calories" but because of the satiation factor as mentioned above and other nutritional factors (fibre, vitamins, minerals, ...).

Also, don't go out of your way to completely avoid carbs. That isn't really effective and some would say unhealthy. Try avoid processed sugars yes, but not carbs overall.

Eat and lift.

The program doesn't matter too much; there are many decent ones. Anything with a focus on the main barbell movements (squat/dead/bench/overheadpress) with some basic progression scheme is likely sound. strengtheory.com is a great source for info; Greg is legitimately strong and actually has some basic science understanding, unlike 99% of 'fitness nerds' who claim to.

Changing your diet will likely take as much effort as the training. Feel free to use an unusual diet to 'learn' to eat more calories. Even if you have to use lots of milk, bacon, or whatever is tasty and easy to get down, your body gets used to the calorie intake and transitioning to a reasonable diet will be easier.

The real challenge is in habit formation. Try to make it easy on yourself and use whatever tricks you can to stick with it.

I'm sure running would work but it's fairly high impact and if you're skinny already then perhaps the high intensity cardio is not what would benifit you the most? Although anything to get your heart working and blood pumping will work!

I'd strongly reccomend regular yoga as an antidote to the compressing forces of sitting at a chair all day. It's amazing how good I feel after just 20mins of stretches and body weight balances post chair sitting.

There's loads of great instructors on codyapp.com, I reccomend checking out 'office therapy' and building up to some more intense ones

Here are my thoughts on learning to run:


Whoa, did I write this? Close to same age and fellow skateboarder here, same story. I can never get in a routine for weightlifting, but I found running in the winter can help keep active. Typically I'm worried about losing weight, which seems the opposite of most people's exercise motives.

Similar story here.

Running is good, great in fact. As long as you run properly and on soft ground, that is. If you can swim somewhere i would recommend that instead as it is easier on the joints. Exercise will also give you an appetite, ofc.

Here is something most people can do that will have great impact on your overall health: take a walking break at work. Besides the health benefits it will help you clear your head and possibly find a solution to that problem, get some sun, chat with a co-worker about life, etc....

I take five minute walking breaks almost every hour. What really helps is to take a slow, leisurely pace, as though you were on vacation strolling through a park and observing the environment around you. At least for me going for a walk at my normal (i.e. fast) pace does not help to clear my head, and I suspect that is true for others too.

I used to hang out with the smokers at my last job. I don't smoke, but I found leaving and coming back to a problem helped me approach it in new ways. I used to always joke that the smoking employees were "cheating", so I could cheat too. Obviously I'd advocate walking over smoking though.

And you got the second hand smoke for free, double cheating!

What's the best exercise just to stay healthy? And what frequency? I would hate to exercise for years just to find out it actually harmed my health.

Pushups. They are the single best full body exercise, that can be done ANYWHERE, and rather quickly. When you've reached a sufficient rep, add a dip bar. Pull-ups should also be part of your routine as well.

Every hour or so while working at the computer, I'll get down and knock out twenty pushups or so. You'll be surprised at how fast you build up muscle endurance, and your lower back pain will be gone.

I'm 37. Developer. I had suffered lower back pain for five years, sometimes severely. I started doing just 20 pushups a day and it is completely gone.

Just one data point, I know. But since that data point is 100% of me, I'm sticking with it.

36, same thing. It works, it's not anecdotal. Number one reason for lower back pain, is weak back muscles.

Makes sense, but why pushups then? They target mostly the chest, shoulders, and triceps.


Pushups are basically planks where you vary the intensity (with the angle of your body to the ground).

Planks build core strength and the lower back is part of your core.

They key is the core(abdominal) strengthening. A strong core is essential to everything being in shape.

If you actively try to engage your core (abs, back, gluts) isometrically while doing pushups you gain more than just arms, chest and shoulder workout. It's about the form - you have to consciously focus on it.

Developed chest and shoulders give you better posture, which is usually enough to alleviate minor to moderate back pains.

I would add squats to the pushup routine (even unweighted). They will develop the quads and glutes somewhat.

weak core muscles, meaning all around your waist. stomach ones are very important, actually these keep straight posture much more than back muscles.

Pushups are great, but don't just do pushups - you definitely want to integrate pull-ups to get a balance between chest & back. If your chest muscles are overdeveloped relative to your back, you are exacerbating the bad computer posture of shoulders rolled forward and forward head posture known as upper crossed syndrome.

For 99% of people here just push-ups will be much better than nothing, it's much harder to find a pull up bar than do push-ups. You won't get overdeveloped muscle just from push-ups.

A good exercise to pair with push ups is horizontal rows. They're easier than pull ups and don't require a pull up bar. I do them with a sturdy wooden broom handle between the back of 2 chairs.

you can also do them underneath an (office) desk, by holding on to the edge and pulling yourself up from the floor

Wow, thanks guys! You made my day with these easy tips.

> They are the single best full body exercise, that can be done ANYWHERE...

it's easy to do almost anywhere, but far from best full body workout if you can use gym equipment. Free weight squats and deadlifts are far better.

good form is required for these, but that is valid for any exercise. a friend of mine messed up one of his shoulder from just push ups.

My point here is that most people will never go to the gym, even with a gym membership. Ability to do exercise anywhere is key.

> single best full body exercise

better than swimming?

I would argue for the accessibility, yes. Swimming requires going to a pool, which means it will never happen. Pushups can be done anywhere with enough room for your body.

My advice would be to incorporate it as part of your everyday life. Cycle to work, if you live far, get a battery assisted bike. I am a massive fan of yoga as well, the general and core strength you need for that is incredible along with keeping your body limber (which helps fighting injuries and just generally helps with people sitting a lot).

Get in a pool and just go as fast as you can, for as long as you can. Take a short break, repeat. Do this for 15 minutes a day and you will experience a massive difference in your life. High intensity training is very good and a pool exercises a lot of muscles, great cardio and very little strain on your body.

Aim for 20 minutes each day, 5 days a week.

I'm surprised you mention swimming has changed your life. I was always suspicious of the way I had begun thinking of my life in terms of "Before Swimming" and "After Swimming" phases.

Has this been your experience too ? I used to bike an hour a day earlier, but swimming has done something else to my well-being and productivity.

Swimming with its deeply regulated breathing opened a door in my mind as far meditative exercise is concerned. It definitely altered the way I experienced exercise, friends who run long distances say similar things about that.

The transformative aspect that I was referring too however was not that, more that swimming as an exercise form is strengthening, incredible cardio and learning to breathe properly is a result of getting better at it.

Moderate exercise 150mn weekly. Can be distributed into 3 to 5 weekly sessions.

If you are male, you can also do intense instead of moderate exercise.

For types of exercise, endurance exercise like running or cross country skiing have been found to extend most lifespan, followed by team sports and last strength training

If all that sounds complicated, my advice is to find a job or a hobby that involves moderate exercise. Gardening as a hobby is a good example. Or commit to commute by bike every day

People who know that I commute at good weather by bike and at bad weather walking (2*70 minutes a day) say I am crazy. People who see my code (I am writing PL/SQL for my living) say that my solutions are crazy simple and efficient. They don't know that all my good ideas came after 45-60 minutes of walking and because of this I always have a pen and paper in my pocket.

I wish that worked for me, I don't solve much while on a bike, possibly because my attention goes to traffic. Walking works much better, I can zone out and think about stuff. Biking does make me feel good afterwards though so I would say the net effect on cognition is still positive.

Same thing for me here (and for most people who commute by bike every day). The increased blood flow must help or something like that. Physical activity is about so much more than losing weight.

I think it's also the removal of the constant stimuli competing for your attention with other forms of transportation. If you take a train, you're probably looking at your phone, or trying to catch up on something on your laptop en route. If you drive, you're likely listening to music, ads on the radio, an npr piece talking about something you like, etc.

Being on a bike, your priorities shift to keeping yourself alive occasionally, but mostly just thinking while moving forward. It's generally a good place to solve problems for me too.

Amazing what happens when you stop bombarding your brain with social media and other screen time. The brain is probably getting less blood when exercising as muscles need it more.

>Squatz and Oatz.

Most of the evidence I'ev seen points toward cardio for longevity. My goal isn't longevity, though.

Doing anything s better than doing nothing, so you should pursue the fitness routine that suits your goals, so that's cardio if you want to live forever, but I don't, so I squat.

Big boys move big weight.

Ride a bicycle to work, or the equivalent 45 minutes a day, 4 out of 5 days a week. Lower impact cardio than most other forms, fun, effective transportation, and if you want to turn it into an anaerobic intensity workout, you can.

Barbell training (e.g., presses, squats, deadlifts, etc.) 2+ days per week to the point that you can deadlift twice your bodyweight or more. Get to the point of being able to do 30 pullups in a row.

Running 30 minutes or more 3+ days per week until you can run a 5k in less than 20 minutes. (Any form of cardio is acceptable and has an equivalent distance and pace.)

The above are goals that are achievable for most people given time and not overly complicated training (probably a year or two with competent programming, adequate nutrition, and recovery) and easily maintained once reached until you're quite close to death. They are, to some degree, arbitrary, but represent a good area to target to reap the most benefits without risking injury from training volume.

Our bodies were meant to be used.

(This, of course, doesn't address diet, which is probably more important.)

Running 5k under 20 minutes is not an achievable goal for most people over 30...I play soccer twice a week and so weight lifting, am in pretty good shape and tried to run 5k in under 20 minutes and just could not, spent like half a year running almost every other evening and the best I could get was 21:20. And it's definitely not easily maintained...

Also 30 pull ups is not an easily achievable number...my friend who is was a gymnast for like 15 years can barely do 25-30...

Don't give people unrealistic goals, they will just feel much worse and stop trying when they realize that they could not achieve those "easy target"...

It's funny you make that claim but are only 1:20 away from it.

Same with your friend who can do 30 . . . .

You probably only have to increase the number of slow miles you run per week to get to sub-20. That's the usual advice in r/running.

For 30+ pullups, I never said it was easy. A program I like is the Strongfirst Fighter Pullup program. Another is the Armstrong program.

Most people don't train for those goals explicitly and they aren't aware of the programming and other lifestyle choices that will take them there. There's a difference between easy and achievable.

Those numbers are not achievable in 1 year maybe but are definitely achievable without being pro or anything like that. It might take you few years but if you set those as a goal you'll get there with recreational kind of exercise levels. Talking from my and my friends experience. I am 36.

Pull up amount seems like a lot. Where did you get that number?

Again, arbitrary. But still doable provided intelligent programming.

sn9 Whats your weight btw? I think these goals are probably easier if you're on the lighter end. I'm 210lbs been working out for years and most of these goals seem unachievable.

I feel like these goal would barely be achievable for your average man who is 200 lbs and in his 30's or 40's without a fanatical devotion to weight lifting, a high protein diet, and probably a large supplement intake(creatine).

Even then I would be surprised if greater than 50% of the 200 lb + men could achieve a sub 20 minute 5k, do 30 pulls ups, and a 400lb dead lift.

Yeah part of those goals is that it kinda forces you to be lean, since they're more difficult if you're overweight.

I'm not certain about the 5k goal at 200+lbs, but I think the pullups should still be achievable on a good program.

At any rate, just aiming for them in good faith and with honest effort will provide many health benefits, which was the point of my comment.

I totally agree that running, deadlifts, and pull ups are great exercises.

And while goals can be motivating, un-achievable goals can also be demotivating.

Regarding the comment about exercises forcing you to be lean, you might not familiar with most of the research on exercise and how it affects weight. But the best way to summarize it is "Exercise is a great obesity preventative, it is a completely ineffective cure."

Yeah how lean you are is more diet.

I meant that getting leaner through some combination of diet and exercise will make those goals all more achievable, which has obvious health benefits and is something I had in mind when deciding on those goals.

You'd also be surprised at how little evidence there is that diet is an effective long term weight loss strategy.

That's more a problem with how difficult and expensive it is to design and implement good studies.

Studies that rely on self-reporting eating history skew the results to ambiguity, but studies in which the experimenters have full and unambiguous knowledge of calories and macronutrients consumed by subjects reveal that the difference in calories digested and the calories burned explains pretty much all changes in weight. It gets only slightly more complicated when talking about body composition (basically, eat enough protein to support your lean body mass and any athletic activity), and even more complicated when talking about long term health (e.g., micronutrient levels that support long-term physiological maintenance mechanisms which are neglected in the sub-clinical nutrient deficient states most people find themselves in).

Fairly simple linear relationships can be used to freely manipulate one's weight, as shown by pretty much any bodybuilder or athlete competing in a sport with weight classes.

Studies aside, it's obvious that relationship between calories digested compared to calories burned is the main determinant of weight as starving populations around the world can tell you. You can't create or maintain mass without the required energy to support cellular metabolism. The physiology and biochemistry is understood well enough for this not to be an issue. The problems professed by the media reporting on studies are mainly ones of measurement (as people don't usually know how to accurately measure their caloric intake, which is why self-reporting studies are basically worthless) and commitment to lifestyles in which they don't chronically overeat relative to their activity level.

It's true if you eat fewer calories you will be thinner, but every study done on diets over the long term(3+ years) shows success rates that hover around 5%(for people who have already succeeded in losing significant weight)

Imagine we gave the startup advice "make lots of money, spend very little money". It is advice that every successful company since the beginning of time has followed. And every failed company has failed to do so. However this advice is exactly as valuable as the advice "eat less calories, burn more".

This is 100% because they fail to adhere to a caloric intake that is at or below their TDEE. That's about behavior, not physiology. They aren't violating the first law of thermodynamics and creating new mass and energy out of nothing. They're eating too much. They aren't tracking their weight and modifying their behavior when they see it going in a direction they and their physicians don't want.

It's no different than the fact that you must spend less than you make to avoid going into debt, and that you must save a certain percentage of your income to save up enough for retirement so that you can continue your standard of living once you retire. And yet we find huge portions of the US population in debt with little to no savings. This doesn't mean the advice is bad or invaluable.

This doesn't mean they're mentally incapable of saving up. That's a behavioral issue, too. And behaviors can be modified. There's research about how to successfully do that, too. Entire industries revolve around modifying behaviors to extract profit from people.

That the studies that you are personally aware of show that people have trouble maintaining a healthy weight suggests, not that it's impossible, but that the subjects don't know how to form and maintain habits.

That people can't implement advice doesn't mean it isn't valuable. At most, it just means they need more advice or counsel. But not different, mutually exclusive, advice.

The deadlift is by far the easiest part of what he said. In fact, it's almost trivial if all you're aiming for is 1 repetition.

I know 5 experienced weight lifters and most of them struggle to do 1 pull-up (yes, ONE). None of them run, so doing a 5k under 20 is definitely out of the question (also a factor of age and height).

Also those goals are definitely not for the majority of people, because they require a MAJOR lifestyle change (3x30min/week won't cut it here). It's achievable, but like he said, not easy.

I would say your weight lifter friends are most likely guilty of not using good programs or just not working towards those goals or both.

Plenty of strength athletes can move tremendous weights but don't know how to program pullups effectively. Even fewer spend any time on cardio.

Agreed on 3x30minutes being unlikely to be sufficient, but I wanted to give more of a starting off point. For example, Couch to 5k followed by Bridge to 10k is likely enough volume to get you a large part of the way there. Then increasing your weekly mileage to at least 30 miles per week and you'll be right on your way to sub-20.

Personally doing barbell training, to roughly this extent and enjoying it a lot

I don't think that's a recipe for everyone: I got a lot buffer than I was (had to buy new pants / shirts because of the increase in my chest and thigh girth), I am definitely healthier than I ever was: no more back pain, no more grunting like an old man when getting out of my chair, haven't had to use any antibiotics in 3 years (I used to get a lot of ENT infections).

Now, I could have achieve the healthy part by just doing some cardio/bodyweight exercises (e.g.: pushups/pullups). Powerlifting is, by far, out of all the regimen I researched, the most bang for your buck. However, not everyone wants/needs to build muscle/get buffed more than necessary, and deadlifting 2x your body-weight is certainly unnecessary (but extremely gratifying!).

those are some ridiculous statements. i'll ignore rest and focus on 2x the body weight via deadlifts. for me this would mean doing 180kg (400 pound) deadlifts which most people simply never ever achieve with 2-3x/week routine (I am lean 188cm tall sporty guy).

unless you have a) excellent genes for joints and all connective tissue (tendons, legaments etc) and b) super-duper perfect flawless form that you can maintain at any situation and any point of exhaustion, you will screw up your body. it might take 10 years or 20 to see it, but reaching 60-70 you will be more crippled than most sendentary people.

there are many good advices in this discussion here, but these are not one of those.

> i'll ignore rest and focus on 2x the body weight via deadlifts. for me this would mean doing 180kg (400 pound) deadlifts which most people simply never ever achieve with 2-3x/week routine (I am lean 188cm tall sporty guy).

Most people follow the wrong routine. I went from no prior weight lifting experience to a 180kg deadlift at 75kg body weight at 180cm height in just over six months training three times a week. No one considered this unusual. The difference is that I was training together with experienced powerlifters.

I stopped competing in powerlifting nine years ago and now lift casually to keep in shape and as physical therapy for injuries sustained from other activities. There is no way I could get from the 100kg I lift now back up to 200+ using this approach, and most people I see in the gym don't even try as hard as that. 180kg is definitely possible training twice a week if you train right.

> unless you have a) excellent genes for joints and all connective tissue (tendons, legaments etc) and b) super-duper perfect flawless form that you can maintain at any situation and any point of exhaustion, you will screw up your body. it might take 10 years or 20 to see it, but reaching 60-70 you will be more crippled than most sendentary people.

What makes you say this? Anecdotally I have known a few 60- and 70- year old powerlifters who still put up 140kg+ deadlifts and they seemed fine. The older retired Olympic weightlifters I have met seemed fine as well.

A double bodyweight deadlift is actually an extremely common milestone for people running an intelligently designed program within the first 6 months to a year of training, if not sooner.

Here's a good site for reasonable strength standards per body weight and gender (though I feel the time estimates in the key are overly cautious): https://symmetricstrength.com/standards#/200/lb/male/-

Every time you close a ticket reward yourself with 10 push-ups or crunches. I know a guy that got a six-pack doing this. After doing it for a while hormones will start to kick in and you will crave it, meaning you will be more productive!

Skateboarding when you're up on a hard problem is the shit


I work on personal projects, read HN, or do other things on my computer while I'm at home. I'm sitting at a desk and using my computer for 12+ hours a day. I rarely ever exercise, or even move my body much besides my fingers.

This is really terrible news for people like me.

Do you even lift? It's really easy to start, and it's really easy to get caught up in the habit. It sounds implausible, but I became a much better programmer after I started lifting weights every day.

That's pretty cool, I guess exercise helps improve mood a lot. I should definitely give lifting every day a shot.

I'm searching for a good set of weights on Amazon, but I'm a bit lost. Can you recommend anything (that's a good for a beginner)?

I just bought the cheapest set of metal plates I could find from Amazon when I started. They were pairs of 2.5, 5, 10 and 25 pound plates, and included a bar and two curl bars, and collars for keeping the plates on the bars. For a while in the Army, I literally just lifted cans of .50-cal ammo. When you start, just Google a few simple compound exercises that don't require equipment, and make sure you're getting at least twenty minutes of cardio a day, until you start to get into shape. Once you aren't dying from the run, and are able to lift every day -- because the first few weeks, you will be too sore between sessions to lift every day, and rest is super important to prevent injury -- then look for some kind of bench. Again, here, I just bought the cheapest thing I could find on Amazon that I could reconfigure for different exercises. Altogether, the weights were a couple hundred bucks, and the bench set was a couple hundred bucks. Definitely also search for weight sets on Craigslist. You'd be surprised at the number of people that buy the best gear and then realize they don't like to exercise.

I bought these which work well: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000VCDXNS/ref=oh_aui_sear...

Once you can handle the max included weight, you can buy more plates.

Try two gallon size or similar juice / tea bottles with handles. You can fill those with different amounts of water to figure out what works for you so you know what real weights to get. After a week you will have a good idea.

Similar story here for most of the last year. Previously I've had a long (walking) commute to work, enjoyed swimming, running and/or mountain biking. I tried HIIT briefly last year but couldn't find a way to reliably include it in my routine. Just started swimming a few weeks back and think I will maintain that longer term. People will tell you to do x/y/z thing, the truth is you need to find something which works for you and becomes a habit and you can fit into your schedule long term. That could be lifting, swimming, zumba classes, whatever.

Either that or decide you're OK with poor health and a shorter than necessary life! :)

It's never too late to start exercising. :-)

get a sit/stand desk. Even better if it is with treadmill. I only wish i started to work standing 10-15 years ago instead of just the last couple of years.

It's not about getting a treadmill desk or sit/standing desk, it's about forcing yourself to actually use it. I have a standing desk with a treadmill under it, most of the time I just find an execuse to sit, and do not turn on treadmill...however when I force myself I really do feel great and much more energized

So when you feel great and energized you manage to force yourself? ;-)

Still good that you have the option to be active when you want to.

it means we programmers will make more money but die sooner. makes all that money earnin' kinda pointless, won't be able to spend it all lol

I switched to a standup desk 5 years ago. I got a dog 3 years ago. I don't sit anymore and she forces me to take her for two walks almost everyday.

I don't exactly have more energy and I don't feel like I'm going to live forever, but I have noticed I am aging slightly slower than my colleagues who are forced to sit down in their offices for over 12 hours a day.

How can you notice something like this?

Start having your telomeres measured annually, before and then after switching from one lifestyle to the other.

...and then get your sitting colleagues to get theirs measured and compare? Come on.

Yep. I am not much into workouts and such, but I got a dog couple of years ago and the daily walks + other outdoor activities I do with the dog certainly improved my life and also my health.

Can you really notice aging of yourself and others who you work with over a period of just 5 years? My coworkers look largely the same (to me) as they did 5 years ago, just with different hair styles. And I'm even less capable of noticing any age related differences in myself over a five year period.

Not OP, but, yes. I'm regularly mistaken for being 5-7 younger than I am. I notice differences when I look at many high school friends. These differences weren't apparent 5-6 years prior, but they grow more visible with the passage of time.

And it's not everyone. Some people hardly look different from high school. Other looks five years past their biological age.

> I'm regularly mistaken for being 5-7 younger than I am.

But that's other people judging your age. When you look in the mirror can you say you look different than you did 5 years ago in the area of age? Can you then extrapolate a level of your own aging over a period of 5 years and compare it against your own coworkers, given what they look like to you now versus what they looked like 5 years ago?

Oh. Yes, I notice some differences. At least, from photos, compared to now. And a few small skin things have appeared in that time.

And like I said, I have friends that didn't strike me as looking older than me that now I find do look older than me. Liver spots are a very visible one: some of my friends now have these. Creases around the eyes are another. I have some when I smile, others have creases in permanence. (And other friends the same age don't.)

Of course, it can be hard to separate aging vs. sun damage (that affects nothing deeper) vs. weight gain. All of those make a person look older.

It's the same thing for me, although I am not active at all. I even get carded when buying beer (I have been able to buy beer in Norway for 18 years now).

When i was in Mexico last summer people kept asking what I ate and how I stayed so young. I don't do shit!.. Well I don't eat meat more than once or twice a week but I don't think that has anything to do with it.

Personally I believe that most of this stuff has to do with genes rather than exercise but, but I don't doubt that if you exercise moderately you will live longer than your genetic baseline.

Yeah, I think genetics does have a lot to do with it. My family tends to be long lived and young looking.

After that it's mostly avoiding smoking, alcoholism, junk food, weight gain and chronic stress. (Actually, during my most stressed period, people were guessing my biological age)

Standing desks not really good for you. Just a fad. (F Google amp too)


An article that concludes "the benefits of standing desks may be overstated" isn't really the same thing as "standing desks [are] not really good for you."

Personally I can say that I've enjoyed the transition. My posture has improved greatly. I have a lot less back/shoulder tension and pain. I find myself naturally more inclined to take breaks and walk around, which has many benefits of itself. It took some getting used to but I often spend ~6 hours a day standing instead of sitting.

If you're going to conclude that standing desks are "just a fad" I would hope that you have better evidence than that.

If you are going to ask someone to find evidence, I would hope you ask them to find evidence that can even exist.

The ROI:

Spending time with mindless exercise: 1/48 part of a year times 70 years is 1.46 years.

If true that's around 8 more years in return for every 1.5 you put in. Nice ROI. :-)

It's not just the years you gain in your life expectancy, your quality of life is also much higher in the years you spend healthily instead of being sick.

Apart from that, even if you don't consider health issues, a good physical condition will give you more energy and having more energy makes life more fun.

plus more attractivity to other sex, which means more sex/better choice of quality partners... the list of positives is endless

And the ROI on collecting social security as well.

If you were going to die at 80 instead of 70, that's a minimum of 4x increase in SS benefits you can collect.

This seems like one of the things that VR/AR might fix. Speaking as someone who tried VR for the first time at the mall yesterday (HTC Vive).

Reminds me of Bret Victor's Seeing Spaces http://worrydream.com/SeeingSpaces/.

Agreed, reading the reviews for popular VR games like Fruit Ninja [1] and Holopoint [2], lots of people are reporting getting a pretty substantial workout from just playing the game. The hypothetical future of gamers being some of the fittest members of society, instead of least active, might not be so implausible.

You can also imagine gyms might replace some of their cardio equipment with VR setups, should VR prove to be comparable to existing equipment in workout effectiveness. Even if it wasn't as effective, people might prefer it due to the reduced boredom factor.

[1] http://store.steampowered.com/app/486780/

[2] http://store.steampowered.com/app/457960/

I hate to be too cynical but I recall people saying similar things about the Wii when it first came out. While Wii can give you a work out, I don't think it ever really caught on.

Th difference that I see between the two is that the Wii offers an extremely limited number of physical activity variations, whereas VR is effectively open-ended, especially when room-scale setups are considered. Paired with adaptive gameplay and on-body monitors, its orders of magnitudes more useful.

Time will tell, but I don't see this as being the same type of misguided hype.

I used to get a really good workout playing the Kinect Sports games on my Xbox. I'd play the boxing game for a couple hours at a time some days, until my arms were extremely sore (I did it for exercise). Eventually I started carrying light weights for the boxing game.

I'm not sure it's that these things never "caught on". I just think they were marketed poorly as serious games, and so only non-serious gamers bothered with them. Then, like with all games, we got bored and moved on, and the market never innovated further (though there was a Kinect Sports 2).

Me too. It's a real pity the thing never caught on.

(My personal theory on that one is that the input lag really hurt the platform. Plus, when looking for Kinect developers, you're looking for people who are good game developers AND physically active - testing on physical games is hard work! That narrows the pool.)

However, it's interesting to note that what's pretty much universally regarded as the best Kinect game ever came out this year: http://www.theverge.com/2016/7/13/12173190/fru-game-review-x...

Anecdote, not data, but Pokemon Go caused me to lose weight. It just doesn't seem to be something I'm going to keep doing as much this year.

It didn't take too long for people to work out that smaller, finer motions were what worked best for the Wii. One to one tracking in VR means that there's no faking motion and while I wouldn't go as far as saying it's a workout I do have to actually be moving, ducking, and dodging around the room in plenty of VR games.

Yes, speaking as a VR developer, that's absolutely huge.

Good luck trying to fake out the monsters in my game, Left-Hand Path, with tiny wrist motions - it's move or get dismembered time :)

I just looked up your game and it looks awesome. I'll definitely be picking it up once the rift update comes along.

My experience with trying to really play wii sports was that doing so made the game much harder than smaller waggle-motions (which may as well have been button presses) and quickly led to RSI (mostly elbow). And that's with kind of knowing how to play the various sports IRL, and knowing the right ways to move—I'd guess it's even worse otherwise.

And they said the same thing about Pokemon Go.

Is VR going to help at work though?

No, it seems to bulky and thus its hard to use for long periods of time. Just ask VR devs. I do believe that AR have more potential, especially magic leap.

VR dev here. 8 hours with a headset on is way too long, but an hour or two is very doable.

(HTC Vive, properly adjusted. Adjustment is key to comfortable wear on the Vive - it's the difference between 15 minutes before discomfort and 2 hours. )

That's the point I'm aiming at, if you have to do real work in VR, then two hours is not enough.

But with headsets small and light enough, it will enable a completely new market. Magic leap said recently that they are now working with production level designs and that it will be smaller than what is currently on market, let's hope that's the case :-)

These reports have an empiricist slant to them and there's usually no attempt to explain the result. No doubt there's truth to be found here, but note that mere act of sitting cannot be bad for health, otherwise seated meditation would be bad for health too (which it isn't).

I conjecture it is the combination of sitting and hard focus on work or video games which is relevant. The brain withdraws attention from the body (which, being supported, isn't required much beyond breathing and digestion). The result seems to be bad things like inflammation, poor lymph circulation, etc, though I think this isn't understood. I remember it was said that, a few decades back in the UK, bus drivers (seated) had more heart attacks than bus conductors (standing).

It could also very well be that those participants in the study who didn't "exercise" were lonely, were more or less alone or single, had no one to go take a walk with, have lost their closest relatives, have lost their significant other, etc. All those could factor in as much if not more than the "exercise". (and hence spend much more time indoors, probably watching the telly, and then things go from bad to worse in old age as health problems cascade)

And I quote "exercise" because it's not clear from the article if it's something like gymnastics, or the participant reported 30 min of daily walking and other activities like cycling. Point being, you could be unhappy and exercise a little bit every day and still be worse off than someone who's happy and loves to sit and watch the bird sings. Who knows.

I'd wager these days the quality of our food, and the bonds we have with people around us is far more incidental on our lifespan.

Here I am thinking of the less explored perspective:



> "One of the tragic outcomes of loneliness is that people turn to their televisions for consolation: two-fifths of older people report that the one-eyed god is their principal company."

Especially now that prolong sitting are stressful on obile or laptop devices often times with uncontrolled radiation coupled with the fact that backache is very likely sequel because of the big weight on it & imagine how many joints are strained in this very common yet vulnerable posture & unwisely used without exercise even within the attic or office! It's precociously an aging grind we must all review our sitting routines & punctuate it with indoor workouts or simply move briskly within a small space I'm in this category too though I can be bold to move out JUST TO STROLL half 1km away from my attic that doubles as my lodging after a bungalow opportunity with big lawn & manho tree eloped to someone else! Gbemisoye TIJANI Healthnewsworker ,life & health coach @gbemi_gbemi @bymst2bymst ALLIanceglobal dis,

So they found that the group which sat for 10 hours but did 30 mins of exercise had cells just as robust as the group which ... what, sat around for 2 hours?

Where are the details?

Don't be fooled. Other studies showed that exercise doesn't negate the damage done by sitting:



Get off your butt, especially if you work on a computer. Take breaks to alternate between mental and physical activity.

There are also studies that show that not to be true:


The study linked was about elderly women specifically.

It actually sounds pretty obvious when you state it like "the subjects that were more active were more healthy" -- we already know that should be the case generally.

What's a good movement cycle? Both time and activity?

My watch reminds me to move to try and get 250 steps an hour, so hourly I try to get up and get some steps. However that's not an increased heart rate and etc.

I use a Pomodoro Timer. Every 25 minutes I take a break. On the 4th break I have a grilled cheese with tomato sandwich.


I break up my day with 3x 30min walks where I run about 5min per 30min in spurts. No real science or thought process to the duration.

Also spend about 12 hours at a homemade standing desk[1]. It has really improved everything about my life since I started standing about a year ago.

[1]: https://nickjanetakis.com/blog/build-a-home-made-standing-de...

Moving will increase your heart rate... It might no be at v02 max but it will be higher than resting

Sure, i just meant it's not what i thought was a "meaningful" increase. Ie, i'd like to at least try and offset the damage i'm doing by sitting all day. So i'm wondering if some basic movement every hour will offset that? Or do i really need to get my heart pumping? etc.

Anecdote: I used to work from home and pretty much sat down the whole day. I would still go for a run once or twice a week, but I would quickly experience a sharp pain in my lower back that made it really hard to run. Some Googling led me to believe that my tight hip flexors might be causing my back pain, and that sitting down all day could lead to tight hip flexors. I've since started working for a couple of hours per day at a ghetto standing desk and my back pains are pretty much gone.

Another thing that I really highly recommend is Joe DeFranco's stetching programme, Limber 11 (https://youtu.be/FSSDLDhbacc). You can do the whole thing in about 10 minutes, and it leaves your whole body feeling nice and relaxed.

I'll throw in my own anecdote and say I can confirm the whole back issue. I've recently stopped my weight lifting program which I put focus on my legs and lower back. My back pain reduced while doing the program but just two weeks off and I'm feeling pain from just adjusting in my seat now. I can't wait to get back to it soon.

Similar situation here (also years of powerlifting pretty much === lower back issues of some sort). Standing desk + inversion table made a huge difference for me.

So, telomere length as a measure of aging is something that keeps popping up from my lay-person perspective. It seems important to know about, and I have little awareness of my lack of awareness, so, those of you who live and breathe telomere research.. could shed some light on my ignorance?

- what "big-picture" information governs the "big-picture" processes?

- critical details swept under the rug with my un-nuanced understanding of the hypothesis, (e.g. "telomeres do not shorten uniformly/monotonically/predictably")?

- how does empirical research concerning telomeres compare to the state (or even future) of our understanding/control of aging?

My solution to this is to set myself weekly goals in terms of steps. It changes your routine when you do that. At 12.7k steps a day, I basically have to elongate my walking commute, and find create ways to stand up and move all day.

This article (only a summary in the link below because we still live in the dark ages of research paywalls) from the Annals of Internal Medicine claims via meta-analysis that exposure to sitting will harm your health regardless of exercise.


I do yoga for my back and ensure there's good lumbar support on any chair I sit on. They say sitting is the 'new cancer' and prevention is often the way to go. Here's an interesting article on some yoga exercises you can try for back pain: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/yoga-exercises-for-back-pain....

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