Aging Gracefully Blog

Are You at Risk for the New Silent Disease?

We all do it, every day. Some of us do it for most of each day. We do it at home, at school, at work, at ball games and at the movies.
What is this pervasive risk factor that can cause early death? It's called "sitting" and Americans average 9.3 hours a day compared to 7.7 hours of sleeping.

The dangers of too much sitting have been making recent headlines:

  • Extended sitting slows the body's metabolism reducing levels of fat burning enzymes and HDL cholesterol.
  • Sitting too long raises your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart, kidney and liver disease, and certain kinds of cancers, even for people who meet the recommended physical activity levels.
  • Sitting more than 6 hours a day increases your risk of death, even if you work out.
  • Watching TV for 6 hours a day robs 5 years off your life.

Being sedentary for the average 9 hours a day is killing us! So what to do if you can't quit your day job? And if exercise won't help anyway, what can Americans do to truly combat the negative effects of sitting for long?

  • Set a daily schedule and periodically, at least once an hour, take a 2-minute break of light to moderate activity. Walk around your office, climb some stairs.
  • Make exercise a part of your meetings: Switch your coffee meetings to walking meetings. Block off time in your calendar.
  • Stand at the back of the room during company meetings or ask your company to create a collaborative meeting space at standing height.
  • Develop an "active work station" such as a standing desk or a treadmill desk.
  • Instead of hitting the vending machine at 3 pm, make a point to stand up, stretch and do a few leg exercises like squats and calf raises.

A small, simple change can have a dramatic impact on your health. Even if it seems elementary, the consistency of doing a "little bit a lot" is a formula for success.

 

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