Every so often researchers find data that enlightens us profoundly and at the same time ruins some of our favorite pleasures. Chinese food, cheeseburgers – maybe we should have known they were not great for our bodies. Now we are learning that we can’t even afford to sit down — at least not for too long. U.S. News recently reported that “mounting evidence suggests that those who spend hours with little movement are at higher risk for developing blood clots, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and a constellation of other maladies fueled by insufficient physical activity.”
Really? You could be forgiven for doubting, but the surprising conclusion is that even super fit sitters are at risk from the biochemical effects of being sedentary for continuous periods of time if they routinely sit still for more than an hour, research says.
There is an answer. Get up and move around every hour. US News indicates that a 2015 study in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology recommends two minutes of exercise per hour of sitting to reduce the chance of death by one third!
What other good ideas do they have for us?
- Count your steps – Try an innovative wearable or even a simple pedometer!
- Just move it – Even mild exercise that breaks up sitting spells is a big help.
- Ping yourself – A reminder from your watch or smart-phone is a great idea.
Cardiologist Edward J. Teufel, MD has a few other ideas on how to avoid the sitting disease:
“Get up and move at least once an hour, and walk at lunchtime. There are even some companies that are providing employees with ‘walking desks’ which is basically a standing level desk with a treadmill in front of it that allows you to walk while you are working! Another idea is to put a set of pedals under the desk (which are available at medical supply stores, often used for physical therapy) and pedal while sitting. I think it is up to employers as well to make accommodations for their workers to prevent these issues. It will benefit them in the long run to have healthier employees.”
The upshot: Don’t give up on plain old diet and exercise as secrets to a healthy life, experts say; but whatever you do or don’t do for exercise, get up and move around for two minutes every hour. And put simple personal technology to use to keep you on track!