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Sitting Disease: Sit Less. Move More

“For people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking.” Martha Grogan, cardiologist, Mayo Clinic

“Sitting Disease” is the modern day health epidemic and refers to the ill-effects of an overly sedentary lifestyle. Sitting has also been referred to as “the new smoking” equating sitting to smoking in terms of harm to overall health.

Let’s take a poll:

How many hours each day do you sit? At home? At work? While commuting? In front of the TV? A recent study1 by Dr. J. Lennert Veerman, a senior research fellow at the University of Queensland, found that 50 to 70 percent of people spend six or more hours sitting a day.

This study went on to reveal that our sedentary lifestyle shortens their life expectancy. If Americans would cut their sitting time in half, their life expectancy would increase.

A growing body of research shows that long periods of physical inactivity raise your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. In January 2010, a British expert, Dr. Emma Wilmot, a research fellow at the University of Leicester in England, linked prolonged periods of sitting to a greater likelihood of disease.2

We understand that you might have a desk job, or that when you get home from work, you just want to blob in front of the TV, instead of exercising. However, the easy part with combatting sitting disease is that it requires a minimum amount of effort. For every 60 minutes of sitting, simply stand up and stretch or walk for three minutes. It’s easy and effective. Take a whole day approach to physical activity by working in NEAT, non-exercise activity thermogenesis, which includes stretching, turning, and bending.

What are some other easy ways to move more during the day to combat sitting disease?

  • Park at the end of the parking lot
  • Take the stairs
  • Walk over to your co-worker, instead of sending an email
  • Stand up while on the phone
  • Keep a stretch band to use at work
  • Get a pedometer or other device to count your steps. Every week increase steps from your baseline
  • Set up standing work stations in your company
  • Give permission for employees to stand during meetings
  • Take a quick walk after lunch/dinner
  • At home, stand up and stretch during commercials

Sound Simple? It is, but the effects could be substantial. Still not convinced? “ “Today, our bodies are breaking down from obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, depression, and the cascade of health ills and everyday malaise that come from what scientists have named sitting disease.” ~ James Levine, MD, PhD