Sit Less – Live Longer
Recent research from the Annals of Internal Medicine displayed some interesting data on sitting and its association with a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and death. It suggested that even if we work out 30-60 minutes per day, sitting more than 8 hours a day still may not be enough to reverse the effects of prolonged sitting. Yikes!
Now you might want to be standing up for this part. The study is significant because it showed an association between sitting time and increased risk of disease; however, it still doesn’t mean we can conclusively state that sitting directly causes disease or death. It could mean those who sit longer have a higher stress loads, or not enough activity, or have poor nutrition.
Even with lack of proof for cause and effect, this has spawned newsfeed titles such as “Sitting is the New Smoking” or “Sitting is Killing You”. Yes, too much sitting is bad, and moving more is better but, don’t throw your chairs out the door yet. Consider the subjects in the meta-analysis whose health risk markers were highest, were sedentary. Those who were more physically active had less risks. Instead of us all getting standing desks or even new chairs, the author of the article suggests we find ways to be more active in a 12 hour period. The following are some notable strategies:
- Take a one-to-three minute break about every half hour during the day to stand (which burns twice as many calories as sitting).
- Move around, exercise, or fold laundry while watching television
- Stand while talking on the phone.
- Know that getting regular exercise is good for you regardless of what you do for the rest of the day. It will not only help reduce your sedentary time, it should lower your risk of illness and improve your survival if you have no alternatives to sitting.
- Focus on your posture, seated or standing, finding a neutral posture improves blood flow which can help mitigate pain and improve blood vs. poor posture.
The study is thoughtful, but it still leaves us with questions like, how much sitting is poor for your health? How much periodic exercise breaks through our day could reduce disease risk? For now, all we can do is focus on making ourselves and our families find more activity in our daily routine. For more activity ideas, onsite ergonomic evaluations, or pain management, please reach out to me.
UMB Wellness Coach