It’s no longer news that sitting is bad for us. In fact, it’s common knowledge that sitting has become the new smoking. And hopefully by now after years of me screaming from the rooftops, you now know that standing isn’t much better. Sedentary is the new smoking, not just sitting. The key to better health and sustained energy levels throughout the day is movement. But with a pandemic keeping us all stuck at home, wildfires and poor air quality keeping us trapped indoors, and the world basically going to s*&@, it’s hard to think about getting off the couch or the desk chair, nevermind consistently moving all day long.
In today’s episode I chat with world renowned fitness expert, biohacking guru, and multiple NYT bestselling author Ben Greenfield, whose work has been featured in Men’s Health, The Huffington Post, Shape magazine, NBC, CBS, the Joe Rogan show, and countless other media outlets. Ben is an ex-bodybuilder, Ironman triathlete, Spartan racer, coach, speaker, and New York Times Bestselling author including his latest book Boundless: Upgrade Your Brain, Optimize Your Body, and Defy Aging. In this conversation Ben shares his many unique tools and tips for sneaking movement into your day (no matter how many hours you spend trapped behind a computer). His knowledge and enthusiasm for human performance and human optimization is electrifying, and his simple, no-nonsense approach is accessible from couch potatoes and workstation warriors all the way to professional athletes…and everything in between.
If you’re feeling unmotivated and exhausted by the relentless downturn of the world, this conversation will refuel your energy and give you the spark, the strategies, and the tools you need to bring your body back online and get moving again.
[Disclaimer: This episode is pulled from the Fitness In Post archives as it was one of my most popular episodes (and it was recorded years before there was a pandemic), but the information and inspiration is even more relevant today.]
Want to Hear More Episodes Like This One?
Here’s What You’ll Learn:
- How to avoid low back pain that comes from sitting in a chair or standing for long periods of time.
- Ben’s favorite tools to put in your office to encourage movement.
- The most effective way to give yourself an energy boost when you’re tired. HINT: It’s not coffee!
- How Ben stays active on an airplane and how you can apply it to your desk job.
- What is “greasing the groove” and how will it improve your fitness and energy levels?
- Ben’s strategy of setting “fitness rules” to incorporate more movement throughout the day. (This is also how he trained for World’s Toughest Mudder Race)
- Are micro workouts more effective than longer workouts? The results are IN!
- Ben’s workout options for beginner’s starting from square one.
- Why you should be taking cold showers.
- Unique and little known ways to increase brain power and creativity.
- How to use light to hack your energy levels.
Useful Resources Mentioned:
Zack Arnold 0:00
My name is Zack Arnold, I'm a Hollywood film and television editor, a documentary director, a father of two, an American Ninja Warrior in training and the creator of optimize yourself. For over 10 years now I have obsessively searched for every possible way to optimize my own creative and athletic performance. And now I'm here to shorten your learning curve. Whether you're a creative professional who edits, writes or directs, you're an entrepreneur, or even if you're a weekend warrior, I strongly believe you can be successful without sacrificing your health, or your sanity in the process. You ready? Let's design the optimized version of you.
Hello, and welcome to the Optimize Yourself Podcast. If you're a brand new Optimizer, I welcome you and I sincerely hope that you enjoy today's conversation. If you were inspired to take action after listening today, why not tell a friend about the show and help spread the love? And if you're a longtime listener and optimizer O.G., welcome back. Whether you're brand new, or you're seasoned vet, if you have just 10 seconds today, it would mean the world to me if you click the subscribe button in your podcast app of choice, because the more people that subscribe, the more that iTunes and the other platforms can recognize this show. And thus the more people that you and I can inspire to step outside their comfort zones to reach their greatest potential. Listen, it is no longer news that sitting is bad for us. In fact, it's common knowledge to sitting has become the new smoking. And hopefully by now after years of me literally screaming from the rooftops, you know that standing really isn't much better. In fact, sedentary is the new smoking not just sitting. The key to better health and sustained energy levels throughout the day is movement. But with a pandemic keeping us all stuck at home wildfires and poor air quality keeping us trapped indoors and world basically going to you know what, it is hard to think about getting off the couch or away from the desk chair. Nevermind consistently moving all day long. Well, in today's episode, I chat with world renowned fitness experts biohacking guru and multiple New York Times bestselling author Ben Greenfield, whose work has been featured in men's health, Huffington Post, Shape magazine, NBC, CBS, the Joe Rogan show and countless other media outlets. He is an ex bodybuilder, an Ironman triathlete, a Spartan racer, a coach, a speaker, and his latest book is boundless, upgrade your brain, optimize your body and defy aging. And in this conversation, Ben shares his many unique tools and tips for sneaking movement into your day. No matter how many hours you spend trapped behind a computer. His knowledge and enthusiasm for human performance. And human optimization is frankly electrifying. And his simple no nonsense approach is accessible from couch potatoes and workstation warriors like us all the way to professional athletes, and everything in between. If you're feeling unmotivated, and or downright exhausted by the relentless downturn of the world right now, this conversation will refuel your energy and it's going to give you the spark, the strategies and the tools that you need to bring your body back online and get moving again. Now as a quick disclaimer, this episode was pulled from the fitness and post archives as it was one of my most popular episodes, which means that it was recorded years before we even thought about there being a pandemic. However, the information and the inspiration in this interview is even more relevant today than it was back when I first recorded it if today's interview inspires you to get up and start moving again. But you have spent so many years stuck in your desk chair and you are so out of shape that you're not even sure where to start. Well then you're in luck, because I have over 50 pages of tips, tricks, strategies, and my favorite tools to share with you and my ultimate guide to building a more active workstation. This Ultimate Guide is a collection of over a decade of my own research and experimentation that summarizes how I stay active, focused and energetic all day long, Despite living in front of a computer for the past 20 years. This includes my favorite recommendations for standing desks, ergonomic desk chairs and mice, tools and equipment that I keep within arm's reach all day long to alleviate and eliminate wrist, forearm, shoulder neck and lower back pains. Seriously, this is a manifesto on how to not let your desk chair slowly kill you. To download your free Ultimate Guide visit optimize yourself.me slash workstation Ultimate Guide. Alright, without further ado, my conversation with fitness experts and biohacking guru Ben Greenfield made possible today by our amazing sponsors ever cast and airgo driven who are going to be featured just a bit later in today's interview to access the show notes for this and all previous episodes, as well as to subscribe so you don't miss the next inspirational interview, please visit optimizer self.me slash podcast. So I'm here today with Ben Greenfield who is actually a returning guest on the show. And for those that are not familiar with Ben Greenfield, you need to become familiar with him. I basically refer to Ben Greenfield as my Web MD, basically. So anytime I have an issue or something that I want to learn about health or fitness, or somebody in the fitness and post community comes to me and says, I have a question about XYZ, what do you suggest? I don't go to Google. I don't go to Web MD. I go to Ben Greenfield fitness comm so it is a tremendous pleasure to have you here today back
Ben Greenfield 5:38
well, I just have two things to say. First of all, I'm I'm honored to be able to come back for an encore if that means I didn't eff up too many things last time. Also, you just set me up for getting sued by referring to me as Web MD. But I forgive you.
Zack Arnold 5:55
We'll edit that part out then I don't want to get you sued.
Ben Greenfield 5:57
Oh, no, no, I'm joking, dude. A lot of times like I'll say something. I actually got an interesting iTunes review. The other week somebody was upset that somebody called in a question about like a heart issue they're having during exercise. And I suggested that they go to their doc to get a stress EKG to rule out something like ventricular tachycardia, like, like a really high heartbeat during exercise. And this guy leaves an iTunes review. He's like, yeah, Ben diagnosed the medical condition of V. TAC and was practicing medicine on his podcast. I'm like, Oh, my God. No, not not really. That's not what I do. I'm not a doctor, I have no aspirations to be I don't fancy myself as a physician, I just try and hook people up with with good advice. But I do not diagnose or treat any medical condition. I just did a really crappy job with the medical disclaimer, yeah,
Zack Arnold 6:46
No, I trust me, I can understand the position that you're in. And that's what I love so much about your site is that you're not constrained to specific guidelines, or restrictions or recommendations. Like you can just find the best information in the field cutting edge information, you can share it with people. And you have you've been voted one of the top Personal Trainers in the country you run I think, what do you have, like 43 podcasts now, I can't keep track anymore. You do a lot of podcasts, you have your site, you've traveled all over the world and speak at conferences, so you definitely know your stuff. But you're not technically certified as a physician, which, frankly, is what actually
Ben Greenfield 7:20
matters most about about giving yourself a coffee enema.
Zack Arnold 7:24
Yeah, exactly. Not Not a whole lot of doctors gonna say that they write blog posts like that. So So there you go. But the the expertise that I really want to tap into today is your knowledge of how to use the body to its fullest potential. If you do not have the time to go out and exercise or train like I know that you deal with a lot of triathletes and Iron Men and people that are really into physical fitness. And they'll take three hours in the morning and go for a bike ride before they start their day. But my audience is a little bit different. And that we are just trying to find a way to stop sitting all day long for 14 hours a day stressed out with crazy deadlines in front of a computer in a dark room. Yeah. And I think the biggest psychological barrier is people saying, well, I can't get out and run three or four times a week or I can't go to the gym. Therefore, I'm going to do nothing but they don't realize there's so much that can be done throughout the day, where if you do it right, you can almost get home and be like, well, I guess I could exercise. But it's kind of just a bonus at this point. Because I've been so active throughout the day. And I've heard you in the past talk about this concept of greasing the groove which is an idea that comes from the book The Naked warrior by Pablo Celine who's known as the Russian that brought the kettlebells to the west, but certainly is one of the top strength trainers and knows a lot more than just kettlebells. But let's talk a little bit about before we go into the actual activities and things that can be done. I want people to really understand from a scientific level, why being sedentary and sitting chronically for 10 to 14 hours per day can be so detrimental to your body because I still don't think that it's it's setting in yet. And I want people to understand what's going on in the body physiologically. Sure.
Ben Greenfield 9:04
Yeah, well sitting is not bad for you. sitting is not bad for you. Sitting is a position that we see lots of animals in nature, doing, you know, you'll see your dog kind of lounging around the house, you'll see, you know, a monkey sit, you'll see. You'll see you know, octopuses sit on the bottom of the ocean like like being being in a sitting position is not really the issue. The issue is being in any one given position without moving for long periods of time. Now, most of the research of course has been done on sittings simply because that is in our modern era, the chosen adopted formal position that you'd be expected to be in at work, but I could create just as many issues and similar issues that I'm about to get into by standing all day or by lunging all day. Or by you know this would be uncomfortable like being in a squat position all day right like, like you can you can create issues by being in any one given position. So I don't want people to think that sitting is about to get thrown your chair, it's just that you need to view your chair as just one positions that you can be in during the day. There's a few things. First of all, in the research that they've been doing primarily since about 2010, on sitting, they found some interesting things. First of all, it increases your risk of diabetes, it increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, it increases your risk of colon cancer. And I don't know if you're familiar with the term metabolic syndrome, but it's kind of a cluster of issues, high triglycerides, high heart rate, high blood pressure, basically all the things that decrease the lifespan of your ticker, like all of those increase when you sit and specifically when you sit for approximately eight hours a day. Okay, so we're not talking about, you know, to sit him down and have a meal, automatically causing you to be lumped into a high risk factor for cardiovascular disease or, you know, creating a risk for a quadruple bypass, what we're talking about is sitting all day long. Now, the interesting thing is that they found I was a study in 2012, they found that these same risk factors will persist even if you work out at the beginning or the end of the day, which is kind of a shocker. This means that you could be like one of those like, crazy crossfitters, or, you know, you, you finish your day with a swim, bike and run. And ultimately, yeah, those workouts at the beginning or the end of the day, will help make you fit. But you still have a lot of cardiovascular risk factors, if you spent the entire day sitting without getting up and moving around, or without spending the day getting into a variety of different positions. And actually, there was one study this was, so the 2014 or late 2013, that found that some of these factors persist even for sitting any longer than two hours for any given period of time. Right. So even just having you're planning a chair for two hours at a time, which is relevant not just to people at an office, but people sitting on an airplane, people sitting in a car, etc. So that's one issue is kind of like the metabolic issue. And a lot of those metabolic issues are because when you sit, your metabolism decreases, your fat burning activity decreases. And you you also see an overall drop in is just basically your metabolic rate goes down, drop in fat burning increase in triglycerides. And it's what you would expect from someone who is who is being inactive. Now, when you stand interestingly, you see an upregulation in that lipase, that fat burning enzyme upregulation in metabolism upregulation in body temperature, and a lot of these metabolic issues tend to go away. So now that's not to say that the standing all day is good for you. Like I mentioned earlier, there are some issues with that. I know people who stand all day who get foot pain, ankle pain, you know, Las Vegas, waitress style, varicose veins up and down their legs, because they're on their feet all day. Like you do need to make sure that you don't just stand all day as a way to mitigate the metabolic damage. But ultimately, metabolism is one thing low back is another times people have low back pain. I was hanging with one of my buddies just last week. And we were at like a like a class together. This was a four day class that we were at. And he kept complaining to me about his low back pain. And if you looked at me during that class, we were in, we're in classroom for 667 hours a day. I was lunging, kneeling, sitting, standing, stretching, leaning against the wall, doing air squats, every time I went to the bathroom, coming back and stretching, bring my arms over my head, and he was sitting in the chair the whole time. And he's complaining of low back pain. And the reason for that is and the reason for his chronic low back pain is because he has not yet adopted the mindset that he needs to get up out of the chair to decrease pressure on the low back to decompress the spine. There's more forces on your spine when you're sitting than when you're running. I mean, it's crazy. The amount of force that the simple act of sitting in a modern chair creates on the spine. So if you have low back pain, neck pain, thoracic like mid back pain, it creates a lot of issues from bio. Now we're not talking bio chemistry, we're talking biomechanics, right. So that's that's the next issue with sitting. And then there's also there's there's a there's a bio mechanist named Katie Bowman who has some really interesting theories and a little bit of research he highlights in her book, which is called
Zack Arnold 14:49
you're talking about move your DNA. I'm a big fan of Katie Bowman's work.
Ben Greenfield 14:53
Yeah, she talks about blood flow, and specifically the fact that when you hold a joint in in one position for an extended period of time, well what travels through joints, vessels, blood vessels, nerves, etc. So you essentially are kinking specific areas of your body. And that potentially, if you just stand up and start to move around, really quickly after having those areas of your body kinked, for a long period of time, you could create what's called like a turbine blood flow, and actually increase your risk for, say, having a heart attack, right, like if you go for a run after a day of eight hours of sitting, you got a bunch of kinked blood vessels in, for example, your hip flexors, which are shortened all day long. So there's there's kind of an interesting vascular effect, as well. So those are some of the main issues with sitting for long periods of time, or really being in any one given position for long periods of time. During the day, there's there's the metabolic factors that increase your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. And all these have been shown to be more prevalent, and people who sit for long periods of time during the day again, no matter how much they exercise, there are the biomechanical factors, with joints, low back being really the biggest one for people who said and then there's also the blood vessel issues.
Zack Arnold 16:09
Yeah, and there's a lot of stuff in there that I want to hit based on a lot of conversations I have with people in my industry, the first of which is I'm so glad that you said Well, there's nothing wrong with sitting because I think that now that all of a sudden, all the headlines are sitting is the new smoking and sitting will kill you. People are thinking oh my god, I should be definitely afraid of my chair and it's like no, no, no, no, no, it's not the chair. That's the problem. It's that you're there in one position all day long. Which brings me to the next thing that's so prevalent right now is people say to me, Hey, I'm standing now so I'm healthier and I'm all good and I will respond to them on Facebook or email say no, it's not about whether you're sitting all day or standing all day. The key is movement. You have to be moving, changing your position like I'm a squirrel in my office I have a really small office it's like 10 by 12. Most of it is equipment, but at any given time I will be on the treadmill in front of my desk I will be walking in circles I will be foam rolling on the floor I will be using a lacrosse ball on the wall or I while I'm watching footage I have a kettlebell, I have resistance bands. Thanks to you. I have a mogo. Now, I absolutely love the mogo. So I can kind of sit and kneel but not have hip flexion. And I'll be sitting all the way down and but it'll take some of the pressure off my lower back. So there are so many different things that can be done in your space. But saying, Okay, now I'm a standing editor. I'm healthy. That's not the way to go. And I actually just got somebody, somebody sent me a Facebook message a few days ago, and I wanted to get your take on this. They said, Hey, a buddy just told me the standing and working all day long over the course of a week is the equivalent of running a 10 K. So I'm super healthy. So please tell me that that's wrong. And tell me exactly why
Ben Greenfield 17:42
it probably is. metabolically in terms of the calorie burning considering you can burn, you know, an extra hand for like a few dozen extra calories per hour. If you're standing for eight hours a day. Let's say you're burning an extra 200 300 calories a day, seven days a week, we'd be looking at what like 2100 ish calories, which you could easily burn running at 10 K. But remember, we're not just looking at metabolism. We're also looking at biomechanics, the same people who stand all day, a lot of times do complain of some foot issues, some venous return issues, pooling of blood in the extremities, specifically the feet. And the legs sometimes have hip issues. You can still slouch when you're standing right because you're in that forward shoulder position. So there are some issues with with standing as well. You similar to you like right now we're talking I'm walking on my treadmill at a standing desk. Next to the treadmill is a foam mat. It's a foam mat called a chi bounder. And it is designed to cause the tiny foot and core and hip muscles to contract and imbalance as you're standing. And then of course, there's this carpet next to that that I can stand on as well. I can also lie down meal lunch or sit cross legged on that mat, or on the floor, which I'll also do, I have a pull up bar just outside the door of the office. I can go hang from to decompress and to also lengthen the shoulders and to pull them back when I'm hunched over typing during the day in any of those positions. I also up in the garage because I work from home office I have an inversion table. an inversion table is something that you cannot when I had an office, it's same inversion table I had. When I used to have an office downtown I literally had this inversion table in the closet and the office downtown and I would pull it out of the closet unfolded and hang at certain points during the day right for just like two or three minutes to decompress the spine, get a little blood flow to the head keep the blood from pooling in the legs. Upstairs. at the kitchen table. I have one of these things called a varidesk and it's designed for a laptop and it's just this little contraption that you place on anything kitchen counter, kitchen table wherever and it you push a button it unfolds and it turns anything into a standing workstation. And upstairs I also have one of these little mats, these these these Chi bounder mats. And then I also have something called a fluid stance, which is like a balanced board that I can stand on to kind of balance and wobble as I'm working. And then I also have, you know, I'll work from the couch, sometimes I'll lay down on the floor by the fireplace on my stomach and work. So, you know, for me, I do most of my work from a laptop. And so I've chosen to do that even though I'm more efficient on a desktop, a laptop allows me to be more versatile in my movement patterns. So it's just kind of a health choice. Um, those are, those are some of the positions that will vary throughout the day. But ultimately, your friend probably is right from a metabolic standpoint, you can burn a heck of a lot of calories from standing, or of course, even more so walking during the day. But the trick is to you know, alternate positions again, not to kick that horse to death.
Zack Arnold 20:52
Sure, okay. Well, what I want to get into next, you'd brought up the the idea of the pull up bar. And that kind of led me to the the thought of greasing the groove because that was the first thing that I thought of that I could do to get started greasing the groove. So now that we've kind of highlighted some of the basic things that are happening with the body and why just sitting all day, or just standing all day, or really being sedentary is something that people really need to be concerned about, especially in this industry. Because when I read the headlines, it's sitting for six to eight hours a day. And I just kind of laugh, I'm like, that's a half day for people that do what I do like a normal day for us as 12 hours and a hard day is 14 to 16 hours and all that is spent sitting in one position. So
Ben Greenfield 21:32
right and if I could just interrupt you real quick, I don't want to offend people, but a big part of it is just pure laziness. That is a big part of it. A lot of people will will argue that, oh, it's social norms, is that my boss expects me to, it's that, like, I look a little weird if I stand but the the problem in most cases is that it simply takes energy to shift positions, okay, in the same way that it takes energy to go to the gym after day at work. And the same way that it takes energy to make yourself a salad at the cafeteria, rather than grabbing Doritos and having the person make you a sandwich. And that's you, in the same way that it takes self control and lack of laziness to get out of bed in the morning, 10 minutes early to do some stretching and some deep breathing. And maybe some journaling. Like these are lifestyle choices. And so in many cases, people sit just because they freaking need to get into the mindset of not being lazy. The cool thing is, once you start moving, you get huge boost in cerebral blood flow, like anytime you find yourself like sleepy brain fog, etc. you freaking switch positions. And there's a there's just like this little boost this little burst of creativeness and blood flow that happens all throughout the day as you shift positions. But ultimately, like a big, big thing to realize here. Is that part of it part of the question that your listeners need to be asking themselves when they are sitting is, am I sitting because everyone else is sitting? And I think it's a social norm? Or am I sitting because this is just frickin easy. And what you'll find is that, that in many cases, it's just you being lazy. I mean, you do have to be honest with yourself, sometimes
Zack Arnold 23:10
I'm not gonna correct you because I agree with a lot of that. However, there are circumstances in our specific industry where I do know, and I've talked to people that have said, Listen, I really, really want a standing workstation and I want to move around more. But in my job, I have a fixed workstation where it's like, you know, a large workstation with three or four monitors and heavy equipment. And they have people seated behind them all day long, where they actually have clients, directors, producers that are on the couch behind them. That to me is an environment where there is a reason to say I want to do it, but I'm not really sure how and that's where greasing the groove comes in.
Ben Greenfield 23:45
Yeah, that's what usually goes driven. And that's basically the airplane analogy, right? It's like, okay, you're on an airplane picture this tightly packed airplane, not a lot of space, you know, the the average like domestic American flight where you cannot stand the whole time on the airplane, you just can't you're in people's way you have a specific place that you need to be at it's like sitting is one of the only things you can do for the majority of the time, right for like 80% of the time, you just kind of have to sit. And that's the situation where you just set the clock, right? It's like every 55 minutes for five minutes, you're going to get up you're going to go to the back of the airplane, you're going to do and this is like a thing I do on international flights, right and I won't get up and I won't stand up unless I have a plan for when I stand up. So what I have is like I go to the back. I do 10 squats, I do 10 shoulder shrugs. I do 10 calf raises. I do 10 circles of the neck in each direction. And then I do 10 torso twist in each direction. That takes me three, four minutes or so I walk back I sit down. So I like have I have a little plan. I don't just stand up for the sake of standing up. Now in the same way we get to this concept that you that you've highlighted and explained pretty well as grateful In a group concept, the idea that throughout the day, you take brief periods of time to do specific movements. So the idea of greasing the groove originally, to be honest with you, was a term coined to describe the process of making the body better at a specific movement. By repeating that specific movement multiple times throughout the day, like you want to get really good at pull ups, you don't do a workout that consists of 10 sets of five pull ups, you instead take 10 breaks throughout the day to do five pull ups make your body very, very efficient at that movement without necessarily exhausting the body. But the term itself, whether due to, you know, my own slightly incorrect use of it, or you know, just just people's adoption of it, or expansion of it has come to also mean this concept of getting up at certain periods of time throughout the day, and having little rules that you set for yourself. And again, for me, it's all about having a plan. It's all about having rules. So what are some sample rules, for example, every time you go to the bathroom, you do 20 squats. Every time you've been sitting for an hour, you stand up and you do 50 jumping jacks, after every meal, you move for 10 to 15 minutes. By the end of the day, you try to do a mass 100 burpees with zero rules, you could do three or four there, 10 there, etc. Every time you go up or down in a building, you take the stairs, these are these are just all examples. There's even greasing the groove rules I'll follow in my car, okay. So when I'm traveling in my car, I have something called a power long, which is a resistant breath training device that you breathe in and out of that works your abs works your inspiratory and expiratory muscles, your rib cage, your breath, hold capacity, your blood flow. And then I also have a grip, a hand grip strength and right like it's called a captain's of crushed. So grip trainer that you squeeze. So every time that I'm driving on the highway, and I pass a mile marker, I'll do five the hand grip strength, there's on one side, then five hand grip strength, there's on the other side. And then the next mile marker, I'll do five power breaths. And then the next mile marker, I'll do 10 keigo suis squeezes right like squeezing your leg as though you're going to stop the flow of urine to train the deep core muscles. And then that last mile marker, I'll do 10 seated rows, meaning I pull myself into the steering wheel and then push myself away, pull myself in, push myself away. And I can drive for like 100 miles doing that. And I'll have a fantastic workout without even stopping and you know, like a gas station do squats and jumping jacks and stuff right? Like I just want to make good time. I'll be setting but I'm like working the whole time having a fantastic workout. Listen to an audiobook, you know, and just grooving. Now you can of course do the same thing at the office using a lot of the rules that I've just described to finish up the day. You look back and you're like, Wow, well, I use the bathroom four times. So I get in 40 air squats. I stood up every hour during those eight hours. I did 50 jumping jacks. So I got in 400 jumping jacks. I took the stairs every time and by the end of the day, Adam asked, you know, whatever, five minutes of stair climbing, and then I got a good 30 minutes to movement in because breakfast lunch and dinner I tried to move and do something for 10 to 15 minutes. And so like you mentioned at the beginning of our podcast, by the end of the day, you get to decide whether or not you want to go to the gym. It's not a requirement because you've been sitting on your ass for the past eight hours.
Zack Arnold 28:35
My sincerest apologies for the interruption in the middle of this interview. But if you are a content creator or you work in the entertainment industry, not only is the following promo not an interruption, but listening has the potential to change your life because collaborated with ever cast is that powerful. Here's a brief excerpt from a recent interview that I did with ever cast co founders, Brad Thomas, an award winning editor Roger Barton, living this
lifestyle of a feature film editor has really had an impact on me. So I was really looking for something to push back against all of these lifestyle infringement that are imposed on us both by schedules and expectations. When you guys demoed whatever cast for me that first time my jaw hit the floor. I'm like, Oh my god, this is what I've been waiting for. for a decade. I also
Zack Arnold 29:20
had the same reaction when I first saw ever cast two words came to mind game changer. Our goal, honestly, is
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Zack Arnold 30:05
The biggest complaint and I'm sure you guys have heard this many, many times, this looks amazing, I just can't afford
it. Tesla had to release the Model S before they released the model three. So by the end of the year, we are going to be releasing a sub $200 version a month of efficacy for the freelancer and indie creatives. Anyone who is a professional video creator outside of Hollywood, I think what we've learned over the last few months is that this technology can translate to better lives for all of us that give us more flexibility and control while still maintaining the creativity, the creative momentum and the quality of work. I cannot stress this enough
Zack Arnold 30:43
ever cast is changing the way that we collaborate. If you value your craft your well being and spending quality time with the ones you love, ever cast now makes that possible for you and me to listen to the full interview and learn about the amazing potential that ever cast has to change the way that you work and live, visit optimize yourself.me slash ever cast. Now back to today's interview. Yeah, and that's really the biggest issue that people have is they just wake up in the morning or that even the night before they say, I'm gonna wake up tomorrow morning, I'm going to get up earlier, I'm going to exercise, I'm going to go for a run or I'm going to go to the gym, then they wake up and they feel horrible. And they hit the snooze button 10 times, then they go to work. And they're at work saying all right, well, I skipped my workout. And I didn't go this morning, I just I have to go tonight, I have to go tonight. And then they end up working till eight or nine o'clock and they get home and they just are exhausted, they barely can stand in front of the refrigerator, open the door and grab something to eat much less put on their workout clothes and go to the gym. And then you just repeat that cycle over and over and over. And I lived that life for years. And what I realized is that doing one small thing during the day is better than dreaming about doing five workouts a week that you're never going to do. And it really is it's a psychological barrier, you have to get over.
Ben Greenfield 31:56
I mean, I just had a study last month that showed that micro workouts, so I forget the actual length of time and the mode that they were using. But it was something like a 30 minute treadmill jog compared to 310 minute workouts like 310 minute jogs, and the 310 minutes beat out the 30 minutes, just because they were spread throughout the day, they get that metabolic effect that blood flow effect. So yeah, I mean, that's that's, it's, it's funny because I did the couple weeks ago to the world's toughest mudder, which is where you're just like racing for 24 hours. My training for that was every hour, but I was working, I would run a mile and do 10 books on order for 52 minutes, run a mile do 10 pull ups keep working, right? Because that because you're just training yourself to kind of like be moving all day. But you know, so you can take this concept. And you can even use it to like train for athletic events, if you don't have time to work out at the end of the day, or if you just want to sprinkle your workout throughout the day. Because you know that when you finish the day, you're gonna be too tired, like go to the gym for an hour. So you'd rather do just a bunch of these little micro movements.
Zack Arnold 32:58
Yeah. And that's something that I'm doing right now I'm training for the Spartan sprint that's going to be just north of Los Angeles in a couple of weeks. And I'm working 14 to 16 hours a day right now. So it's not like I'm going to the gym. It's not like I'm doing three hour hikes for three or four days a week, I've got two young kids, so it's just not going to happen. But like you said, I'm not saying to myself, I have to be doing these intense, you know, these hit training workouts every single day, I just need to keep moving because I need to train the body to just constantly be in motion. So I think I probably sit, I don't know, maybe grand total of an hour to two hours a day total. And most of that is near the end of the day. Because I think that you and I have this in common and maybe this has changed for you. But I have a very hard time writing when I'm standing up. I sit when I eat and I sit if I'm writing a blog post or you know writing something where I'm intensely being creative, I just I can't do it standing up. I don't know why. But pretty much everything else. I'm either on the treadmill standing on the mogo doing something that's, you know, on the go or moving. But that just trains my body to move. And I'll try to get in a p90x workout early in the morning if I can. But if I don't, I'm not thinking oh, well, there it goes. My one chance to be active for the day. I'm actually being more active throughout the day. And I'm glad you brought up the thing about the 30 minute workout versus the 310 minute workouts because I was going to ask about that. Because you had mentioned much, much earlier in the show that if you do a 60 minute or 120 minute workout, if you're a triathlete, and you're one of those people that gets up at 430 in the morning, does your bike ride does your swim and then you sit for 12 hours a day. If you were to take that exact same amount of time and space it out incrementally over the course of the day. Not only is it the same, but you're saying it's actually better for your body. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And I do the same thing with writing. So I certainly do have creative processes. So I do some fiction writing. I have a hard time tapping into my right brain when I am standing or walking. And so I do a lot of my fiction writing stay. I follow the same rules right like I typically do lying on my stomach. Lying on my back, or sitting or lunging, but I do technical writing, standing or walking. And and I found that I can do a lot of left brained stuff, just finding one and moving. So a couple of the tools that I wanted to bring up that you didn't mention, you brought up a lot of great stuff, one of which that you didn't mention, which surprised me is are you familiar with the topo? map? Have you heard about that?
Ben Greenfield 35:20
Yeah, I have. But I just already had a couple of these Chi bounder mats. And so I use those. But yeah, I mean, the topo maps are good, too, just like the name implies. It's just provides a topography for your feet, like a bunch of different kind of like foot positions that you can be in during the day. And that works fine. I just happen to already have a couple of mats when my wife would probably kill me if I started importing even more things to take up floor space. So yeah, the top on that is good, though.
Zack Arnold 35:47
Yeah. And I'm literally standing on it right now. And it was a massive game changer. For me. I just discovered it. I think it was maybe a month or two ago. And I just recently had a podcast with the designers of it, to really understand the evolution of where it came from, why it does what it does. But it really just promotes a tremendous amount of movement. And I had another editor in my office, I was working from home, and he wanted to use my office just to be able to export something. And he's like, what is that Matt, I was standing there. And I just, I just started to move more. And I didn't even think about it. And that's really what it's all about. It's just promoting that idea of more movement. Another tool that I wanted to bring up, I know that you mentioned that you try to get up every 55 minutes to an hour. And one thing that I hear from my audience, so often this was me for years, too, is you say, but I can't I can't be interrupted, I'm just in the zone, I'm, I'm creative, and I'm flowing, and I'm in the zone, and I just don't want to be interrupted, and I'll spend hours or I don't drink water, I don't eat anything. And then I just come out of it. And I've created this great work. And I used to be that way. But what you don't realize is, you're now just putting the pedal to the metal on your car for hours on end and burning out the car. Now you're not going to be able to even reach your destination because you're going to overheat and you're going to be exhausted. So what I've trained myself to do is get up every 15 minutes to an hour. And I have a couple of different apps that do that. One of which is a pomodoro app is called focus time. But the one that I really like now is an app that's on my desktop called break time where literally makes my screen go black after 50 to 55 minutes. And it can be annoying. But I also find that when I do it consistently throughout the day, by eight 910 o'clock at night, I still have the same amount of focus and energy, as opposed to burning myself out for those three hours of intense focus and then being useless for the other nine hours of the day.
Ben Greenfield 37:31
Sure, the question you have to ask yourself is do you want to create great work, be fat and die when you're 60? By creating great work quickly? Or are you willing to create great work at a slightly slower pace, have a great body and live until you're 80.
Zack Arnold 37:43
And I don't even think it's so much about working at a slower pace, because I work and clip along at a very, very fast pace. But it's because I am pacing myself throughout the day. And I'm constantly moving around and going outside and taking walks and taking bathroom breaks. And I never worked for more than an hour at a time. Even if I'm with somebody in the room a Director Producer, I'm like, Hey, I just wanted to let you know that. You know, and they can tell immediately when they walk in my room and like Oh, you've got a treadmill and you're wearing vibrams on your feet. Like they can tell that I'm I do things a little bit differently. But I say Listen, you know, every hour, so I just want to let you know that you know, I want to get up or move around. Like I just want to stay active so we can keep going all day and never wants it. They said you know what I'd really prefer if you just sat like they join in. They love it.
Ben Greenfield 38:25
Yeah, you're one of those guys.
Zack Arnold 38:27
I'm one yeah. And you know who I have to thank for that. He's on the other end of this microphone. So thank you mister. Alright, so along the lines of greasing the groove first one caveat I don't want to tell people is if you're going to be doing the squats in the bathroom, do it before or after, not during. So just just want to put that caveat out there. But let's say that somebody is coming at this that doesn't really have much of a basis for fitness. And they're listening to this and saying, Well, I'm not going to do 50 jumping jacks, and I'm not going to do 100 burpees, because I'm 75 pounds overweight. And when I go up a flight of stairs, I'm out of breath and out of energy. So let's really step back because I think that the I'm going to start implementing a lot of the rules that you have, because I'm not as regimented as that, but I want to be so I love those rules, and they work for me. But if I'm somebody that just looks at that and says even that's overwhelming, where's a really good place for somebody to start literally from square one.
Ben Greenfield 39:18
Besides getting into a variety of different positions during the day, which is automatically if you're overweight and unfit going to be kind of hard for you, you're going to find that just the mere act of sitting down, standing up moving, lunging, kneeling, etc. Just like get your heart rate up. You may even break a sweat you know, by the end of day doing all those things. low impact activities work really well. So for example, you can get one of these pieces of elastic tubing with handles on either end of it. And your break instead of doing you know burpees can be to take that elastic band stand on it and do five shoulder raises to the side five shoulder raises to the front and then like 10 air squats or Your activity can literally just be every time you got to make a phone call, you stand up any pace around your office, knee push ups, if you have like a soft floor, just like getting down in your knees, and doing like knee base push ups again. superduper low impact. Yeah, you'll eventually probably progress to a regular push up and, and yeah, maybe even a burpee. But ultimately, it's just starting with smaller movements. The cool thing you have going for you though, if you are overweight, is that pretty much anything you do is going to be harder, even breathing like over overweight folks sometimes are told Oh, you're over at a low metabolic rate. I used to run a metabolic laboratory. The folks who came in who had the very highest metabolic rates were all overweight because your body has to work so hard to move and breathe when it has extra insulation and extra fat. So you kind of are it's like you're wearing a weighted vest right. And that actually is is a great little rabbit hole to delve into ankle weights and weights, little weighted vest that you can put underneath your clothes. If you're walking around and moving. Like I do a lot of bloodwork Thursdays, I load up my computer with everybody's blood work. I put it up up on my standing desk, I put on a 20 pound weighted vest. I hop on the treadmill and I walk with a weighted vest on for like four hours while I'm doing those console's it's like going on a hike. So you know, a lot a lot of things you can do it doesn't have to be burpee land.
Zack Arnold 41:22
Yeah. And I literally have a weighted vest sitting underneath my coffee table next to my desk at the office too. And people look at me and be like, why do you have a bulletproof vest in your office? And like it's not a bulletproof vest. It's a weighted vest. But if I am worried and they're coming in, they're like, what are you doing, like just trying to stay active? You know, but there is that that cultural idea that all of this is just unacceptable, like, and I hear that all the time where people will email me or reach me on Facebook and say, Listen, I just it's not culturally acceptable in my office to be getting up and moving or taking breaks. But it's okay for me to go take a smoke break, it kind of goes back to your idea of Well, some of it is just using it as an excuse to be lazy. But there's one thing I'm really trying to do is really reshape the culture. What I'm trying to show people is that if they take the initiative to start moving a little bit, and they start to feel the increased energy, the increased creativity and the increased focus, then when somebody says, You know what I'd really prefer, if you didn't do that, then they had the energy to fight back. Because I had somebody recently, an assistant editor had emailed me, and they on their whiteboard, were writing down like exercises they wanted to do throughout the day, like squats, push ups, lunges, whatever it was. And their boss actually came by and said, Well, I'd really prefer if, if you didn't write those things on the board and do those things on company time and on company property, you really should be working. So let's talk a little bit now about not just what can happen if your sedentary are all day long, or what you can do to stay active. But let's talk about how implementing these things are actually going to give you better brain function and make you more creative and more focused throughout the day. And what's actually happening physiologically, because that, to me, is the big win for people.
Ben Greenfield 43:03
Yeah, in addition to the blood flow that I already described, the main thing is that when you're moving, and especially when you're moving or robotically, versus doing like strength training, and bench pressing, you create a lot of what's called brain derived neurotrophic factor. And that's also abbreviated as BDNF. That's something that acts in your brain to increase the quality of neuronal connections, and also neuronal growth, as well as memory, both short term and long term memory. And so when you move, you increase not only blood flow to the brain, but also a very important factor that crosses into the brain, and allows you to boost your cognitive performance. Returning to what I mentioned earlier about how you feel this little burst of creativity a lot of times as you move to a different position, or you feel this little wakefulness boost as you stand or as you stretch. And a big, big reason for that is both the blood flow and the BDNF with the reason that it acts more in the brain with aerobic activity primarily being that when you do strength training, it tends to get produced but it stays at the muscular level. Whereas when you do aerobic activity, it travels throughout the body, it doesn't stay at the muscular level. So that's that's the main thing that you feel.
Zack Arnold 44:17
Yeah. And I think that that's the easy win that people get out of this because I mean you work with people all day day in and day out that are trying to reshape their lives trying to get in better shape trying to lose weight. And in the fitness and diet game. It's a long game, you can't just start eating really well for three days. Or go out and do a five mile run and then look in the mirror Three days later and say wow, I look and feel so much better. Like it doesn't work that way. And you have to be patient and just continually put in the time and over time your body will change. Your life will change but when it comes to the the greasing the groove idea and doing these activities, these are easy wins that if you are sitting for 12 to 14 hours a day you're going to notice this stuff Immediately, you're not going to have a thinner waistline and you're not going to lose 50 pounds, but you're going to feel better almost immediately. And that's where the easy wins start to stack in the more. So I really want to emphasize to people that you have to get past that psychological barrier of saying, Well, if I can't exercise five days a week, I'm not going to do it at all. Because if you do it for 10 minutes a day, that's 10 minutes more than you were doing before you started doing something.
Ben Greenfield 45:23
Zack Arnold 45:24
One more area that I wanted to veer off to before I lose you just because you're such a wealth of knowledge of information is You talk a lot about unconventional ways to be able to burn extra fat, which will then of course, raise your metabolism gives you more energy, more creativity and more focus, because to me, my program is not about looking the best and having the thin waistline and having the beach body it's about how can I optimize my brain and my operating system so I can be the best creatively at my job. That's really what it's all about. One thing that I have adopted is the the cold thermogenesis, and you've totally got me hooked on doing freezing cold showers in the morning and at night, and I thought you were nuts. I'm just I remember watching the video of you taking a cold shower, and like this guy's crazy. And I started doing it and it is a life changer. So can you just walk in this the reason I want to bring this up, it's because in a way, this is almost another form of simple free activity or a way that you can change your daily routine to get a ton of benefit out of it without really having to do anything different or take extra time. So can you just talk a little bit about that. And then any other ideas you want to throw out there there, those really cool unconventional ways to just burn a little bit of fat and boost your metabolism.
Ben Greenfield 46:35
Sure. And and let's focus specifically on you kind of delve into the brain a little bit. And you brought up a great example being cold showers. And I also am a big fan of keeping the room at a slightly cooler temperature. For the same reason a few other things that I kind of like as far as as little known ways to improve brain performance or to to increase the metabolism I'll give you I'll give you two more. The first is there are these these sounds that you can play in your ear called binaural beats, I use an app called sleep stream, which I really like. It's not just for sleep, even though it works really well for sleep. But you can also set it on creativity, motivation, focus, de stress, etc. You put one earbud in one ear, one earbud in the other ear, and it plays sound frequencies into your ear that bring you into the specific brainwave patterns associated with that frequency. And so it's really good, you know, if you're, if you're writing technically or you're writing creatively, or you're sleeping or you want to power nap, that's a really, really cool one. So I like that the the use of by neural beats and sounds. And then the other one, we talked a little bit about about quite a few of these, I guess one more that I'd recommend is when you look at sunlight, it produces a lot of light from what's called the blue light wave spectrum. And while your listeners may be familiar with like iPad, insomnia, not looking at screens at night, because it can keep you awake at night, you can also tweak that and you can use that to your advantage, right. So like this morning, I was using blue light. So I was not only in my office and I have these light bulbs in my office called awake and alert bulbs, which turn out more blue light. But then I also have these glasses that I wear. And I also have an in ear device the glasses are called retimer glasses. The in ear device is called a human charger. But both produce light that simulates sunlight one to your ears, one of your eyes and ears really, really cool for increasing your wakefulness or in my case, because I just got back from back east, I waited to expose my body to any light. So I got up early in the morning. So I got up at like 5am because I'm still on on Eastern time. But I did most of my activity actually put on blue light blocking glasses, kept him on until 7am right and did did all my work my stretching everything in the dark. And then I put on these glasses. And the in ear device just blasted myself with simulated sunlight to bring my body back into the timezone that I'm in and to give myself a boost of wakefulness, you know, eventually about at 1pm Today I'll settle down for a nap. But I'm also a big fan of lights. Those are the two I'd recommend is binaural beats and light.
Zack Arnold 49:21
Yeah, and I love the idea that you brought up light and for anybody that's listening and wondering what sunlight is, I'll make sure and put a link to the show notes and I'll show a picture of what the sun is as well because many people in my industry don't see that too often. But this isn't actually an area that I wanted to go into. But it just occurred to me that this is a huge area of focus that is another one of those you can almost in a way grease the groove as far as light because in our industry we never see daylight ever we get in our cars early in the morning we drive to work we're in a dark room. We can't have Windows because we have monitors and they're calibrated for proper color and proper picture. So the vast majority of people in this industry just don't see light And I don't think people understand how much not having exposure to regular daylight will actually affect their metabolism affect their creative focus their cognitive function. And that's one of those things that you really have to try and get out there and do every day where I make sure that I expose myself to either blue light or sunlight in the afternoon, because not only is that gonna help my focus, but it's also going to make sure that my sleep cycle is within a regular rhythm. So can you just talk a little bit about light hacking and how that will work as far as your sleep schedules, your circadian rhythms, your focus, and also, you know, just how it can help you switch your circadian rhythms if you're traveling because a lot of people in my industry travel all over the world for conferences.
Ben Greenfield 50:41
I have a article that I've written about that over at Ben Greenfield, fitness.com. It is, if you link to it in the show notes, Zach, it is an article about hacking your body with blue light and red light. And it's it's the most recent one, I believe it's the same article in which I talked about that human charger device. And I discuss in in that particular article, there are a bunch of links to older articles that I've done on the same topic. So yeah, check out check out that article. If you just do a search for like Ben Greenfield, what is the human charger, I think was the title of that article. it'll pull up reams of info because frankly, I don't I don't have time to get into all that it's just too long of an explanation.
Zack Arnold 51:23
Yeah, no problem at all. And I definitely want to make sure that you can get back to what you're doing. But I am immensely immensely appreciative for you coming on the show today and helping my audience to understand how they can be more active and focused and creative without having to go to the gym, because that is the holy grail of our industry. So I very, very much appreciate it. And thank you so much for your time.
Ben Greenfield 51:43
Awesome. Well, thanks for having me on. And folks have questions you can send them over my way. I'm happy to clarify anything, and I'm honored to be back. I love what you're doing, Zack.
Zack Arnold 51:53
Awesome. Well, thank you so much. I love what you're doing as well. And I will continue to send people to the Web MD of Ben Greenfield fitness disclaimer, he is not a physician or a doctor or a trained professional, or what we actually are a trained professional. But yeah,
Ben Greenfield 52:06
you get Yeah, I'm not a complete slacker. But yeah.
Zack Arnold 52:09
There you go. All right. Well, thank you so much, sir. I appreciate it.
Ben Greenfield 52:12
Thanks for having me on, man. Okay. All right later.
Zack Arnold 52:17
Thank you for listening to this episode of The optimize yourself podcast to access the show notes for this and all previous episodes, as well as to subscribe so you don't miss future interviews just like this one. Please visit optimize yourself. That means slash podcast. And a special thanks to our sponsors ever cast and arrow driven for making today's interview possible. To learn more about how to collaborate remotely without missing a frame. And to get your real time demo of ever Cath in action visit optimizer shaft.me slash ever cast and to learn more about airgo driven and my favorite product for standing workstations, that Topol Matt, stick around, they're coming up next. If today's interview inspires you to get up and start moving again, but you have spent so many years stuck in your desk chair and you are so out of shape that you're not even sure where to start. Well, then you're in luck, because I have over 50 pages of tips, tricks, strategies, and my favorite tools to share with you and my ultimate guide to building a more active workstation. This Ultimate Guide is a collection of over a decade of my own research and experimentation that summarizes how I stay active, focused and energetic all day long, Despite living in front of a computer for the past 20 years. This includes my favorite recommendations for standing desks, ergonomic desk, chairs and mice, tools and equipment that I keep within arm's reach all day long to alleviate and eliminate wrist, forearm, shoulder neck and lower back pains. Seriously, this is a manifesto on how to not let your desk chair slowly kill you to download your free Ultimate Guide, visit optimize yourself.me slash workstation Ultimate Guide. Thank you for listening, stay safe, healthy, insane, and be well. This episode was made possible for you by you guessed it airgo driven the creators of the Toko mat, my number one recommended product if you're interested in moving more and not having sore feet, your height adjustable or standing workstation. Almost every new person that I meet in this industry starts our conversation with Hey, I got a topo map because of you. It's changed my life. Thank you. Listen, standing desks are only great if you're actually standing well. Otherwise, you're just fighting fatigue and chronic pain. Not like any other anti fatigue mat. The toboe is scientifically proven to help you move more throughout your day, which helps reduce discomfort and also increases your focus and your productivity. I'm literally standing on one as I read this, and I don't go to a single job without it. And if you're smaller and concerned, the topo map might be too big, or you simply don't have the floorspace. Well there's a topo mini for that. To learn more, visit it optimize yourself.me slash toboe. That's t o p o
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Ben Greenfield is human performance consultant, speaker and New York Times bestselling author of 13 books, including the wildly popular titles “Beyond Training” and “Boundless”. A former collegiate tennis, water polo and volleyball player, bodybuilder, 13 time Ironman triathlete and professional obstacle course racer, Ben has been voted by the NSCA as America’s top Personal Trainer and by Greatist as one of the top 100 Most Influential People In Health And Fitness.
A frequent contributor to health and wellness publications and websites and a highly sought after speaker, Ben’s understanding of functional exercise, nutrition, and the delicate balance between performance and health has helped thousands of people around the world achieve their goals and improve their quality of life – from high level CEO’s to soccer moms to professional athletes and beyond.
Ben is an advisor, investor and board member of multiple corporations in the health and fitness industry, and is also the founder of KION, a nutritional supplements company that combines time-honored superfoods with modern science to allow human beings to achieve peak performance, defy aging, and live an adventurous, fulfilling, joyful and limitless life.
Via online, phone, e-mail and in-person consulting, Ben coaches and trains individuals all over the world for health, longevity and performance. He also works with individuals, corporations and teams for body and brain performance enhancement, and specializes in performance, fat loss, digestion, brain, sleep, hormone, anti-aging, parenting, relationships, smart drugs, nootropics and overall wellness for achieving an optimized life.
Ben resides in Spokane, Washington with his wife, Jessa, and twin boys, River and Terran, where he enjoys worshiping God and praising Christ, swinging kettlebells, fiction, guitar, ukulele, spearfishing, bowhunting, plant foraging and cooking.
The original music in the opening and closing of the show is courtesy of Joe Trapanese (who is quite possibly one of the most talented composers on the face of the planet).
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