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Stand Up for Health

February 22, 2013 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

Cost is one of the most popular excuses used to avoid good health practices. In some instances, there’s a kernel of truth to the assertion that money assists with the promotion of wellness. A few examples include greater access to medical care and a wider array of alternative and complementary therapies. On the other hand, exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep and stress management are usually completely free of charge. This past week, researchers from Kansas State University (KSU) added one additional, 100% free activity that just might save your life while, at the same time, lower projected health care spending. According to Dr. Richard Rosenkrantz, of KSU, “We know that with very high confidence that more physically active people do better with regard to chronic disease compared with less physically active people, but we should also be looking at reducing sitting”.

A growing of body research reports that limiting sedentary time can dramatically reduce the risk of most major causes of chronic disease in the modern world including cancer, diabetes and heart disease. What’s more, mortality rates are higher in individuals who sit uninterrupted for 6 hours or more daily. Does that seem like a lot to you? Then, consider all the various forms of sitting that occur in a typical 24 hour cycle: answering emails and other computer work and play, eating meals, watching TV, working at a desk, etc. Also, consider the significant amount of time that children and adolescents spend engaging in other sedentary activities such as doing homework, playing video games and talking on the phone. It’s no wonder that many of the diseases traditionally associated with adulthood are now presenting themselves in younger populations who are demonstrably less active than in previous generations. This is not progress!

As always, my point is not to paint a dismal picture of 21st century living. Rather, my objective is to define the problem and offer several practical solutions. For starters, even if you’re not inclined to vigorous exercise, you can still reap significant benefits by simply incorporating more standing and “minimal intensity” walking into your daily routine. In fact, this form of physical activity was recently shown to positively influence several measures of wellness, such as waist circumference, LDL cholesterol and other cardiovascular risk markers (apolipoprotein B, blood pressure and triglycerides). Other research supports this notion and reveals that breaking up prolonged sitting lowers post-meal blood sugar and insulin in obese and overweight adults.

If you’re one of the many who lives a predominately sedentary lifestyle, you might consider utilizing some form of a reminder app or program to break free of excessive sitting. Many health authorities, including the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, recommends standing up and moving around at least once an hour. To that end, try to find as many opportunities to walk extra steps in the course of your home and work life. You can even make it a game of sorts. While at work, walk over to the water cooler several times a day and take a few sips, even if you’re not thirsty. At home, plan extra trips up and down the stairs or do some chores in between your favorite TV shows. You can even get up to brush your teeth or pick out your clothes for the following day. Get creative and get moving. Every step you take is a small step towards improved health, savings and vitality.

To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:

Study 1 - Chronic Disease and Sitting Time in Middle-Aged Australian Males (link)

Study 2 - Prolonged Sitting: Is It a Distinct Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factor? (link)

Study 3 - Sedentary Behaviors and Subsequent Health Outcomes in Adults(link)

Study 4 - Sedentary Behaviors & Health Outcomes Among Adults: A Systematic (link)

Study 5 – Sedentary Behavior and Cancer: A Systematic Review of the … (link)

Study 6 - Sedentary Behavior and Physical Activity in Youth With Recent(link)

Study 7 - Minimal Intensity Physical Activity (Standing and Walking) of Longer (link)

Study 8 – Breaking Up Prolonged Sitting Reduces Postprandial Glucose & Insulin (link)

Study 9 - Eight Month Post Program Completion; Change in Risk Factors for (link)

Study 10 - Point-of-Choice Prompts to Reduce Sitting Time at Work (link)

A Sedentary Lifestyle May Increase Cancer Risk

Source: Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2010 Nov;19(11):2691-709. (link)

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