Why Give a Damn:

If you ask a room of one hundred people if exercise is good for you, one hundred people will say yes. If you ask how many people in the room exercise regularly only twenty people will raise their hands. Sitting may be fabulous, but it will kill you. Here’s help.


The author of this post, Ann Garvin is an author, speaker and professor of health, stress management, research methods and media literacy.

Hi, my name is Ann Garvin and I’m an exercise physiologist who would like to sit more. All reply; “Hi Ann, me too.”

I look in the mirror naked-
(have antidepressants handy).

If you ask a room of one hundred people if exercise is good for you, one hundred people will say yes. If you ask how many people in the room exercise for thirty-minutes three days a week only twenty people or less will raise their hands. I’m not alone in my desire to sit more. Sitting still is kind of fabulous. You can do anything you want while sitting; watch TV, eat, drive, make love, sort the laundry. It’s amazing the sitting. But, it will also kill you. Slowly, over time and just when life is getting good; the kids are growing, your business is flourishing, your house is paid off, you know who you are.

I just read my list.
I sound like a lunatic.

I have been regularly exercising for thirty-six years but I bet I have a lot in common with those who struggle with fitting exercise into the lives. My dad was a reader not a thrower. He didn’t watch sports, never threw the ball for us growing up, and did not encourage us to join basketball. When we moved from the east coast to the midwest, we entered a town consumed by athletics and I came to exercise through the admiration of athletes. My God, their bodies! Such beautiful sinew and grace, I wanted to be them. And, I’ve been mimicking, studying, teaching athletes, real athletes for thirty-six years.

When you’re not a natural athlete, when exercise isn’t your food, when you’re a reader, educator, writer, scientist, you have to join the other non-athletes of the population and try to fit exercise into your life. Every. Single. Day. How do I do it? I cheat. I’m a cheater. I’m a sneak. Spoiler Alert-some of these suggestions you will roll your eyes at and say, “I’m not doing that.” I get it.

I’m not alone in my desire to sit more.

Ready? I make it non-negotiable, I do it when I have the most energy (in the morning, after coffee, before my only shower of the day). I go to bed at night with my exercise clothes on. I call vacuuming exercise and I fired my cleaning person. I have a treadmill desk, a podium desk, and I never, ever sit when I’m teaching. I make my friends, kids, students walk with me in between other activities. I got a dog. I got another dog. I put a treadmill and weight machine in my basement. I volunteer at a fitness club so that I get in free. I wear a Fitbit pedometer that acts like a naggy toddler reminding me that I haven’t walked enough. I look in the mirror naked (have antidepressants handy). I get paid to teach others exercise. I bought a house with a lot of stairs. I watch Breaking Bad on my cell phone when I’m walking my dog. I did triathlons with my brother when I was younger and now realize you don’t have to be that fit, now when he does the Tough Mudder I rake the leaves, run on the treadmill and do pushups during commercials (no I don’t-not really but it’s a good idea). I rent or stream a movie and do not allow myself to watch it unless I am on the treadmill.

How do I do it? I cheat. I’m a cheater.

I just read my list. I sound like a lunatic. But I will say this one last thing. I don’t want to exercise every day any more than you do, but as an exercise physiologist I know this; it will save your life and it will save your mood. It has no negative side effects and if you want to hold your children’s children, continue to save the world, be all that you can be, there isn’t anything better. So get a good, comfortable bra, go to bed and tomorrow cheat your way to a life of less sitting.

About the author

Ann Garvin

Ann Garvin

Ann is an author, speaker and educator. As professor of health, stress management, research methods and media literacy at University of Wisconsin Whitewater, she has worked extensively in psychometrics, statistics and psychology. Ann is the author of On Maggie’s Watch & The Dog Year (Berkley Penguin, 2014).