What if I told you that sitting on your ass could kill you? A recent study of the health risks involved in leading a sedentary lifestyle found that the next time you sit down, you'll want to watch TV all night to rethink your nighttime activities.
How much time per day do you devote to regular physical activity? Did you know that adults should spend at least 30 minutes a day on physical activity? Well, they should if they are taking care of their health.
If you are reading this column, you are probably at your desk. If so, you won't get up and walk around and the consequences are that you may lose years of your life simply by sitting!
A study published a few days ago suggests that long sitting hours contributed to 70,000 deaths in the UK in 2016 and cost the NHS £ 700 million annually. For more information on this research, see this Daily Mail article.
This report from the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health states that a sedentary lifestyle has been linked to 70,000 deaths each year.
A sedentary lifestyle is a type of lifestyle that involves little or no physical activity. A person who leads a sedentary lifestyle often sits or lies down during an activity such as reading, socializing, watching TV, playing video games, or using a cell phone / computer for much of the day. Does this describe what it's like for you?
It really only gives us one health warning. Sitting can be harmful to your health. Unfortunately, more and more people seem to be leading a sedentary lifestyle than ever before. This is despite the amount of advertising promoting the health benefits of physical activity.
I have two doctors, my left and right leg.
Research has shown that many of you spend nine hours a day or more sitting down, and not just at work – since your free time is often dominated by using the screen, whether it's in front of the television or on a computer or tablet surfing the Internet. This undoubtedly endangers your health.
I worked out at the gym a few mornings ago and had a chat with a guy on the next bench. I see him crowded there most days. He has Parkinson's, which can only be recognized by a slight tremor in his left arm. He knows how important it is for him to exercise regularly to make sure he is keeping the effects of Parkinson's at bay. We both understand the importance of using our body and pushing it to its limits.
We already knew that sitting a large part of the day increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and death and puts a strain on the healthcare system. It is also a major contributor to the obesity epidemic. All because people are not getting enough physical activity.
The researchers say the results suggest that 11.6% of all deaths were associated with sedentary behavior and that 69,276 deaths could have been avoided in 2016 if sedentary behavior had been eliminated in the UK.
So the message is clear. Too many people spend their free time settling down and sitting at work for hours. The cost is that this can kill you.
In truth this is not new. The link between sickness and sitting first appeared in the 1950s when researchers found that London bus drivers were twice as likely to suffer from heart attacks as their fellow bus conductors.
It is important that you exercise. To ward off the effects of a sedentary lifestyle, it's important to get more exercise every day.
This doesn't have to mean significant lifestyle changes. All you have to do is incorporate physical activity into your life on a daily basis.
Through lifestyle changes, I am talking about a variety of little things that you can do that together will make you much more physically active.
- Avoid long periods of time in front of a television or computer
- Get up and move around during commercials or at least 10 minutes an hour if you're at a desk
- Go up and down the stairs instead of taking the elevator
- Walk around while you are on the phone
- Limit the time you spend watching TV
- Meet up
- Go over in your car for short distances
- Take your dog for long walks and get a dog if you don't have one.
- Get a walking buddy or take part in a community-based activity like dance classes and walking groups
- Walk or cycle to work
- Get off at a bus stop further away from your destination
- Pick up gardening, mow the lawn, rake the garden, and water your plants!
- Play actively with the children or grandchildren
When walking, the feet, blood, and mind move. And movement is life.
For those of you ready to step up and really make sure that you get healthy through physical activity, focus on adding just 30 minutes of extra activity to your day, five days a week. Get a pedometer (a device that counts the number of steps you take). Did you know that 10,000 steps a day equals half an hour's walk? These 30 minutes would be the best 30 minutes you could spend on your health. According to the World Health Organization, taking 10,000 steps a day is the ideal goal to improve health and reduce the health risks caused by inactivity.
If you learn something from today's article, try to sit down less throughout the day, including at work, and try to increase your daily physical activity.
Regardless of your age, physical activity is the best way to take care of our physical and mental health. Hey it could add years to your life.
I think that I cannot maintain my health and my spirit unless I spend at least four hours a day – and that's usually more than that – strolling through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from everyone worldly obligations.
Henry David Thoreau
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