Fighting Back Against BIC (Butt-in-Chair) Syndrome

For an author, the BIC (Butt in Chair) philosophy is sound advice.  You can’t write a book (or anything else for that matter) unless you’re sitting down at your computer or with your notepad. But if you’re spending long hours there, you may be putting your health at serious risk.


According to a Mayo Clinic article, “Researchers have linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns, including obesity and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels.” The article goes on to cite a study that found that adults who spent more than four hours a day in front of a screen (computer/television) had a “nearly 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause” and “about a 125 percent increased risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease, such as chest pain (angina) or heart attack”

That, my friends, is scary stuff…and it’s one of the reasons I’ve embarked on my current health & fitness journey. Only one of the reasons, you ask? What other reasons could a person possibly need? 

To be honest, I’ve known about the dangers of being sedentary for a while, without doing much about it. These past few months, however, I’ve been paying a little more attention because of a few additional facts:

  1. I’m finding the older I get, the less forgiving my body is of my sporadic bursts of overactivity…and the longer it takes me to recover.
  2. I’ve also been coming to terms with the sobering knowledge that I’m slowly losing what I used to take for granted–balance, flexibility, endurance, etc.
  3. I’ve battled with my weight pretty much my entire life, and while body image isn’t a huge issue for me at this stage (no pun intended!), the extra I’m carrying right now is beginning to take a toll on my joints–particularly my knees and ankles.
  4. I’ve noticed a serious decline in my activity level–and my enthusiasm for it–over the last few months. Most notably, my twice-daily walks with Giant Dog had become once every two or three days…not good for me or him.
  5. Hubby has been going to the gym on a daily basis for the last year, and the results are impressive. He looks and feels better, and I’d kinda like to keep up with him! 😉
  6. And finally, my youngest child turned 20 this year. Hard as it is to admit, I’m pretty sure this means my days of blaming my extra padding on my children are at an end. 😉

All this, of course, brings me to the question of what I’m willing to do about it. The answer? Rather a lot, actually. A few weeks ago, this came home and moved into the spare bedroom: 1

Within a couple of weeks of using it, my knees stopped hurting when I went downstairs, and they no longer audibly creaked as I went back up (a rather freaky sound to hear coming from your body, trust me!). Encouraged by this small but significant improvement, I added a five-minute yoga routine to my days, and within mere days, my stretches were twice what they were at the start. “Aha!” my brain told me. “Exercise really might be a good thing after all!” 

Who knew? 😉

Feeling positively inspired now, I’ve embarked on a “feel better, look better, live longer, get-my-sh**-together” eating and exercise plan. Well, it’s more of a make-it-up-as-I-go thing than a plan, but it’s a good start–and I’d like this post to be an invitation to any of you who may have been feeling the urge to make your own changes.

Here’s what I’m currently doing (in addition to the above):

  1. I’ve started the 5k Runner program (an iPhone app) in the mornings, substituting speedwalking for the running. Today was Day 3. I will hurt tomorrow. 
  2. I take Giant Dog on a second 30-minute walk through the woods in the afternoon. He comes with me for the morning walk, too, and is supremely happy with resuming our two-walks-a-day routine.
  3. I’m into my second week of a modified squat challenge. I started out with a full-on challenge, but when my knees started hurting again after the third day, I realized that approach has serious flaws. The modified approach alternates squat days with plank days–and I haven’t stopped hurting from the damned plank portions, but in a good way! 😉
  4. I’ve started keeping a food diary and counting calories…something I hate doing but must admit is effective in actual weight loss. *sigh* I’m on day 4 of that as of today, and it’s made much, much easier by an online program called My Net Diary, which tracks both food and exercise (and increases your calorie allowance to allow for what you’ve burned off that day…woot!). 

So what do you say? Anyone else suffering from excessive BIC Syndrome–or any overly sedentary lifestyle–who might like to join me in my quest for better health, more energy, and fewer aches and pains (once the exercise quits hurting, lol!)? If you’re not up for a whole lot, pick just one or two things you can do to make life better, tell me about them in a comment below, and let’s check back in here together in a couple of weeks. Deal? 🙂

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8 responses to “Fighting Back Against BIC (Butt-in-Chair) Syndrome”

  1. Nicole Avatar

    Sadly, paying bills for me means 7 hour days at a computer, then trying to get any writing time on top of that. I need to get into a regular exercise routine. For a while I was training regularly with my physiotherapist, but that dropped off when he moved. I have a weekly karate class but I need to be doing more than that for my own problematic knees. I was diagnosed with patellofemoral pain syndrome some years ago and exercising regularly, particularly strengthening and stretching my legs, is key in managing my knee pain. My physio LOVED squats. Turkish get-ups are another good one. They may not look like much, and you don’t feel the burn the way you do with things like squats, but they are a full-body work out and it doesn’t take many for them to take a lot out of me (especially with weights added).

    1. Linda Avatar

      Making time is tough, Nicole, but it sounds like you’re already making an effort, and in my books that’s better than half the battle! Hang in there, and know you’re not alone!!! ((hugs))

  2. Valerie Rae Millard Avatar
    Valerie Rae Millard

    Hi Linda,
    I’ve been exercising and eating better since October and, while I have periods when the exercising is reduced for a time and others when I eat/drink what I shouldn’t, I’ve lost 55lbs and my knees are so much better. Still have a other 40lbs to go but feeling so much better and getting lots of my energy back …getting there

    1. Valerie Rae Millard Avatar
      Valerie Rae Millard

      P.S. I work 5 days a week 7:45am – 4:00pm in an office, at a computer 95% of the time, so I definitely have BIC Syndrome!!!

    2. Linda Avatar

      Wow, Valerie, that’s awesome…and inspiring!!! Woo hoo for you!!! 🙂

  3. Sandy Avatar

    I’ve started the couch to 5k program a million times. Something always came up about halfway through – a trip, a sickness, pure laziness. Now I’m working on getting up an hour before my kids do I can run in the am (I use the but-I-already-took-a-shower excuse a lot). I’ve passed the halfway point this time! I’m not losing any weight tho. 🙁 I’m 15 lbs overweight (never lost the baby weight after my twins were born) and I know that’s why I feel tired and my feet hurt.
    I’m seriously considering a treadmill desk.

    1. Linda Avatar

      Sandy, I’m in awe of all you DO manage to do with twins that age!!! When my twins were born, I used to take three-hour walks every afternoon just so they’d both sleep at the same time, lol…it worked, and I was in FAR better shape then. And yes, I’ve thought about the treadmill desk too…a lot!

  4. D. D. Syrdal Avatar

    I did the Couch-to-5K program years ago, it’s great. I used to run at lunch with a co-worker. I don’t run anymore, but I would encourage anyone interested in taking up running to use that program. Having a running buddy makes a HUGE difference, too. The first time you do 30 minutes non-stop and don’t wish for death is amazing. These days I prefer walking or bicycling, although I don’t do nearly enough of either.

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