Dr. James Levine, a researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, says
“Excessive sitting is a lethal activity.”
Levine has found that sitting will essentially take years off your life. Considering that most of us work in offices and sit on our asses for at least 8 hours/day, this isn’t the best news.
Solution: quit your job immediately and move to a ski town. Right?
What’s so scary is that it doesn’t matter how fit you are. Sitting all day is damaging you and going to gym isn’t off-setting it.
In a study published last year that tracked more than 17,000 Canadians for about a dozen years, researchers found people who sat more had a higher death risk, independently of whether or not they exercised. www.msnbc.com
The Quick Facts About Too Much Sitting:
– While sitting, you burn 1 calorie/minute which is 1/3 of the rate at which you’d burn calories walking
– Insulin effectiveness drops after 1 day of sitting which raises your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes
– Risk of becoming obese increases
– Enzymes responsible for breaking down fats in the blood drop leading to a drop in good cholesterol (HDL) levels
– After just 24 hours of being sedentary, Levine found human subjects experienced a 40% reduction in their insulin’s ability to uptake glucose
Results of an American Cancer Society study on 123,000 subjects from 1992-2006:
– Men: 6 hrs/day sitting = death rate 20% higher than men who sat for 3 hours or less.
– Women: 6 hrs/day sitting = 40% higher death rate than women who sat for 3 hours or less.
I love this Aussie study! We always hear that TV is bad for you, but this just hurts:
Another study, published last year in the journal Circulation, looked at nearly 9,000 Australians and found that for each additional hour of television a person sat and watched per day, the risk of dying rose by 11 percent. www.nytimes.com
So, what do we do to counteract this sitting-will-kill-you epidemic?
Dr. Levine wants us to get NEAT: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. NEAT basically means moving around in your seat. The key to surviving the horrible daily sitting routine is to shake around in your chair. If you fidget at your desk, you’ll live longer. Take the stairs in place of the elevator, walk over to a colleague’s desks instead of emailing or calling them, take short breaks to stretch, stand up, and move around. Or, once again, simply quit your job and move to a ski town.
Some suggestions of mini-exercises you can do at your desk from Kelli Calabrese, MS, an exercise physiologist and spokesman for the American Council on Exercise:
- Glance at the wall clock and rip off a minute’s worth of jumping jacks. If you’re a beginner, try the low-impact version (raise your right arm and tap your left toe to the side while keeping your right foot on the floor; alternate sides)
- Do a football-like drill of running in place for 60 seconds. Get those knees up! (Beginners, march in place.)
- Simulate jumping rope for a minute: Hop on alternate feet, or on both feet at once. An easier version is to simulate the arm motion of turning a rope, while alternately tapping the toes of each leg in front.
- While seated, pump both arms over your head for 30 seconds, then rapidly tap your feet on the floor, football-drill style, for 30 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times.
- If you can step into a vacant office or conference room, shadow box for a minute or two. Or just walk around the room as fast as you can.
- Or do walk-lunges in your office or a vacant room. (You could also amuse your co-workers by doing these in the hall; remember Monty Python’s “Ministry of Silly Walks” comedy routine?). Set your PDA to beep you into action.
- No conference room? Take to the stairs — two at a time if you need a harder workout! Do this 5-7 times a day.