Surprising evidence against sitting around too long
(NaturalHealth365) Most of us get that refined sugar and smoking are linked with numerous chronic health conditions, not to mention an early death. But while most of us agree that physical activity is good for your health, many of us overlook how its common (and seemingly harmless) opposite – sitting too much and for too long – can actually increase mortality risk, too.
So says a 2017 research paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Annals of Internal Medicine. This paper and others offers surprising evidence for the link between prolonged bouts of sitting and mortality – but in good news, it’s a problem that’s relatively easy to eliminate.
Sitting too much at home or work? Science reveals an important warning for you
We’ve heard the term, “Sitting is the new smoking.” Heck, sitting is the new refined sugar, for that matter!
The veracity of this statement was more or less verified in the 2017 paper entitled, “Patterns of Sedentary Behavior and Mortality in U.S. Middle-Aged and Older Adults: A National Cohort Study.” The paper’s authors followed 7,985 American adults, tracking the subjects’ sedentary time using a device called a hip-mounted accelerometer. They then compared the subjects’ objective amount of sedentary activity with all-cause mortality.
After about four years, the effects of sedentary behavior was glaringly obvious: people who sat continuously for 60+ minutes were significantly more likely to experience early death compared to people who took a movement break at least once every 30 minutes…even if their total sitting time was the same! Likewise, a “greater total sedentary time” was associated with a higher risk for “all-cause mortality.”
Physical activity has a big reward for those that hear this message, it’s easier than you think
In conclusion, the authors state: “Both the total volume of sedentary time and its accrual in prolonged, uninterrupted bouts are associated with all-cause mortality, The authors go on to suggest that “physical activity guidelines should target reducing and interrupting sedentary time to reduce risk for death.”
So, what to do during those twice-hourly movement breaks? Another study published in the Journal of American Epidemiology (which involved nearly 8,000 people) showed that even low intensity exercise (about 40 to 50% of your max heart rate) in the place of 30 minutes of sedentary behavior can combat the latter’s harmful effects by as much as 17%.
And if you bump up the physical activity intensity to moderate- or high-intensity, you can slash your risk of early death by over a third!
5 hacks for getting more physical activity in to your day-to-day life
Desk job? Don’t worry! Try these five strategies throughout your day if you want to reduce your risk of early death and offset the harmful impact of all that sitting:
- Drink a lot of water! This will “force” you to get up from your desk frequently since you’ll need to use the restroom.
- Set an alarm to go off once every 30 minutes. When that timer goes off, stand up, take a short brisk walk around the office, or do some simple in-office yoga moves and stretches (all good examples of low-intensity exercise).
- During longer breaks, go for a walk outside to get some healthy sun exposure in addition to getting the benefits of low intensity physical activity.
- Invest in a convertible stand-up desk (or jerry-rig your own set up) so you can stand more throughout the day. Talk to your HR rep or office manager about this to see if they can invest in these desks as a cost-effective strategy – research shows standing can boost productivity!
- Commit to taking all phone calls while standing or walking.
Keep in mind that the negative effects of sedentary activity – including an increased risk for early death, diabetes, and cancer – is independent of how much you exercise. In other words, even if you hit it hard at the gym after work most days of the week, this may not be enough to offset the 8 hours you just spent sitting in your chair.
Your major takeaway? Get up and move!
Sources for this article include: