Too many Americans are couch potatoes. Not just sitting or lying on the couch but sitting and being sedentary for a good portion of the day. In my recent nutrition class, we talked about overweight children. A number of studies have shown overweight children don’t necessarily eat more than their peers but they do sit more than their peers and get much less exercise.
Not only is exercise beneficial to our health in many ways, it may actually reduce our risk of cancer and reduce inflammation. An article in Environmental Nutrition notes, “Regular physical activity seems to reduce chronic low-grade inflammation that can lead to DNA damage and promotes unhealthy cell growth that can lead to cancer.” (Cancer-fighting plant foods) More physical exercise lowers our risk of a number of cancers.
But one can’t just exercise for 30 minutes and then sit the rest of the day. Studies have also shown sitting too much seems to negate some of the benefit of our exercise. So how can we “sit less, and move more”?
- Focus on getting 30-60 minutes of exercise a day. One doesn’t have to go to the gym, but a brisk walk, gardening, biking, swimming. Can’t do 30-60 minutes in one session? Then break it into 15 minute exercise sessions. A walk before work, a walk at lunch, a bicycle ride after work with the kids.
- Love to watch TV? Replace one of your TV shows with a walk outside. Find ways to sit less when you are home and move more.
- Desk job? Find ways to get up every hour and walk to get a cup of coffee, walk over to talk to a co-worker instead of sending an email. Or when talking on the phone, stand up for a few minutes. Just standing is helpful. Just one to two minute breaks from your sitting and can be helpful.