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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Is sitting a health risk factor?

Harvard School of Public Health recently tweeted, “How many hours are you going to spend sitting down today?"

Turns out this is an important health question as studies are finding the more you sit the higher your risk for diseases.   A recent study has indicated that sitting less can add to your life.  So how do you add years to your life?  This study found that people, who sat for less than 3 hours a day, could add 2 years to their life span.  Those that limited their TV viewing to less than 2 hours a day, added about 1.4 years to their life.  It seems sitting is a health risk factor just like obesity is a health risk factor.   So if you sit more, you die earlier?  Not exactly but sitting more increases your risk of dying earlier. 

One of the authors for this study was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal (Wall Street Journal blog).  The author, I-Min Lee noted how she is trying to be more active by jumping up and down in her office when the lights go off as the lights are motion activated.  Other recommendations that were noted in the Wall Street Journal article:

§  Taking the subway?  Stand rather than sit.
§  Stand when reading
§  Rather than send an e-mail, walk to your co-workers office
 "Too much sitting can lead to insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, both of which may up cancer risk," says Brigid M. Lynch, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at Alberta Health Services. "Standing for a few minutes every half hour may be enough to minimize the effects."  (MSN healthy living)
So how much do you sit in a day?  Most Americans sit more than 6 hours a day so getting sitting time under 3 hours a day would be a challenge for most of us.  But we can start by watching less TV at night, adding an evening or lunch time walk into our daily routine. 

Children should also be moving more.  I really like Dr. Sears recommendation in his book, “The Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood.”    Dr. Sears has the motto:
Thus, if a child wants to watch a 30 minute movie, they can earn that sitting time by moving for 30 minutes.  He states, “Each day require your children to spend at least the same amount of time in physical play as they do sitting in front of a screen.”

How can you lessen how much time you spend sitting in a day?  

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