Share this article on:

Research Bites

Yoke, Mary M.A., M.M.

doi: 10.1249/FIT.0000000000000056
COLUMNS: Research Bites

Mary Yoke, M.A., M.M., is a full-time faculty member in the Kinesiology Department of the Indiana University School of Public Health. Previously, she was an adjunct professor at Adelphi University for 22 years, where she authored or coauthored numerous group exercise research studies. She is the author of 4 texts on fitness; she has presented in 11 countries and throughout the United States on a wide variety of health/fitness topics and has obtained 23 certifications. Her research interests include behavior change, positive psychology, and group fitness and personal training efficacy.

Back to Top | Article Outline


Evidence is mounting with regard to the harmful effects of constant sitting. We now know that even bouts of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity may not be sufficient to undo the negative outcomes resulting from hours of sedentary behavior. But many questions remain. For example, is standing more throughout the day a viable alternative? Does increased standing time, independent of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, have a favorable impact on health even though the energy expenditure of standing quietly is low (∼1.2 METs), with almost the same caloric cost as sitting?

In a recent article, Katzmarzyk (4) examined the relationship between standing time and the increased risk of death in 16,586 Canadian adults during a 12-year period. Subjects were asked to rate how much time they spent standing (e.g., almost all of the time, about three fourths of the time, about one half of the time, about one fourth of the time, and almost none of the time). Age, smoking, alcohol consumption, leisure time, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity levels, and PAR-Q responses were evaluated. The major finding of this study is that there appears to be a strong relationship between standing time and cumulative survival, especially in those who do not meet the current physical activity recommendations. In other words, the more time a person spends standing, the lower the risk of premature death. Interestingly, the greatest difference was between those who stood one fourth of the time and those who almost never stood. In terms of all-cause mortality, choosing to stand even a relatively small percentage of the time apparently is much better than constant sitting. And for those individuals who stood the most, a 33% lower risk of mortality was observed when compared with those who were the most sedentary.

As a caveat, Katzmarzyk (4) does point out that continuous long-term standing may pose some health concerns; these include an increased risk of varicose veins, as well as fatigue. However, for most people, standing more often seems to be a low-risk, high-benefit way to impact health favorably. All rise!

Back to Top | Article Outline


The authors of another article (5) suggest that much of the public is not yet aware of the importance of increasing standing time and decreasing sedentary behavior. Rutten and coworkers (5) write that sitting often is a matter of habit and that people may not be conscious of how much they’re sitting or of how to break the habit. To that end, the authors propose the development of a recognizable term that potentially could be turned into a verb; such a term needs to be easy to understand, has a “stickiness” factor (meaning that it is memorable), and describes an action that is easy to implement anywhere. They have coined the acronym STUFF, which means Stand Up For Fitness. If STUFF became familiar to the general public, it’s conceivable that people may use it in sentences such as this one: “Everyone, it’s time to STUFF; this meeting has been going on for 30 minutes!” During college lectures, the authors state that they include a slide every 30 minutes that says STUFF, and students then stand for 5 minutes while the session continues. Apparently, the students’ reaction is positive! Is it possible that this user-friendly term could enter the public vernacular and help swerve people away from sedentary behavior?

Back to Top | Article Outline


A 2013 study (6) found that older women showed significant improvements in several functional fitness parameters after participating in water exercise classes using the S.W.E.A.T.™ method. A total of 66 women (aged 60 to 89 years) were divided into either a water exercise group or a control group. Both groups were tested before and after a 16-week period using nine functional activities of daily living assessments; these included tests for both static and dynamic balance, the sit-and-reach test, a 30-second sit-to-stand assessment, the up-and-go test for agility, a test of walking speed, a stair climb, and a biceps curl measurement. During the study, the exercise group participated in a chest-level water exercise class for 45 minutes 3 times a week.

The result? When compared with the control group, the water exercise group improved markedly in all parameters except dynamic balance. Specifically, an 8% improvement in flexibility, a 31% improvement on the sit-to-stand test, a 16% improvement in walking speed, and a 22% improvement in the ability to climb stairs. And after the study, water exercise participants reported they were more active and felt less likely to fall.

S.W.E.A.T. is an acronym that helps identify variations of movements for the in-water exercise class. S = changes in Surface area and Speed; W = changes in the Working positions in the water (e.g., feet grounded on the bottom of the pool or working with the body suspended); E = Enlarging the movement and increasing the range of motion; A = working Around the body by changing the plane of motion; T = Traveling through the water. For an instructor, cuing and using these variations help create progressions that allow participants to adjust the workout to their own needs, increasing or decreasing the intensity and/or complexity as desired. The pool workout used in the study consisted of 10 minutes of warm-up and cool-down moves and 10 to 35 minutes of training; moves used in the training segment included progressions for functional activities of daily living, muscle endurance training, and cardiorespiratory endurance training. Equipment such as webbed gloves, paddles, and elastic resistance bands also were used to help create overload.

Water-based exercise may hold more appeal than land-based exercise for older adults because the fear and risk of falling are minimized and arthritic joints are supported. In terms of effectiveness, the S.W.E.A.T. method of water exercise seems to be an excellent way for older women to improve their mobility, agility, strength, gait, and static balance on land, thus helping to reduce the incidence of falls.

Back to Top | Article Outline


A major goal of a CrossFit® workout is to perform as many reps as possible (AMRAP) within a given time frame. CrossFit, of course, is the highly popular, sometimes controversial, high-intensity workout that has been labeled an extreme conditioning program (1). Researchers Brupbacher et al. (2) conducted a randomized controlled trial to see if (and how) music affected CrossFit-specific performance, which was defined primarily as the ability to perform AMRAP within 20 minutes.

A total of 13 participants with at least 3 months of CrossFit experience performed 4 CrossFit training sessions of 20 minutes each, 2 with and 2 without music. The music was chosen to represent what was played typically in a CrossFit gym in Basel, Switzerland (primarily music by AC/DC); there was no attempt to synchronize the movements to the music. Each session used a workout round as follows: 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 air squats, with the goal of performing as many of these reps as possible in 20 minutes. Outcome measures included total work output (the total number of reps completed in 20 minutes), heart rate, blood lactate level, rating of perceived exertion, perceived pain intensity, and measures of any emotional responses to the workout (affective reactions).

What were the findings? Training with music resulted in significantly less work being performed! An average of 460.3 repetitions was completed with music versus 497.8 repetitions without music. There was little to no difference in the other measures between the music and the nonmusic trials. The authors suggest the following explanation for the lowered AMRAP with music: participants were all relatively well trained and may have preferred to use an associative attention style relying on their own inner feelings of exertion. Therefore, the music may have distracted them from producing a maximal effort during the 20-minute bouts. Although music has been shown to provide an ergogenic effect and help lower the rate of perceived exertion during submaximal (endurance-oriented) workouts, this may not be true at intensities above the anaerobic threshold (3). Limitations of this study include the fact that the music had tempos varying from 94 to 141 BPM. The slower music, played during the last 5 minutes of the exercise bout, may have contributed to a reduced number of repetitions. Furthermore, the music chosen may not have suited each participant’s preference. Future studies of this sort should use a greater number of participants (e.g., >13), choose music specifically aligned with their preferences, and equalize the music tempos throughout the workout. Serious CrossFit aficionados, for whom the goal is AMRAP, may decide that they prefer a nonmusic environment for their exercise sessions.

Back to Top | Article Outline


1. Bergeron MF, Nindl BC, Deuster PA, et al Consortium for health and military performance and American College of Sports Medicine paper on extreme conditioning programs in military personnel. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2011; 10 (6): 383–9.
2. Brupbacher G, Harder J, Faude O, Zahner L, Donath L. Music in CrossFit® — influence on performance, physiological, and psychological parameters. Sports. 2014; 2: 14–23.
3. Karageorghis CI, Priest DL. Music in the exercise domain: a review and synthesis (Part II). Int Rev Sport Exerc Psychol. 2012; 5: 67–84.
4. Katzmarzyk PT. Standing and mortality in a prospective cohort of Canadian adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2014; 46 (5): 940–6.
5. Rutten GM, Savelberg HH, Biddle SJH, Kremers SPJ. Interrupting long periods of sitting: good STUFF. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Activity. 2013; 10: 1.
6. Sanders ME, Takeshima N, Rogers ME, Colado JC, Borreani S. Impact of the S.W.E.A.T.™ water-exercise method on activities of daily living for older women. J Sports Sci Med. 2013; 12: 707–15.
© 2014 American College of Sports Medicine.