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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sit less and walk more for good health



Many people have jobs requiring them to sit for a long time, up to 8 hours or more a day.  The latest research indicates that you can help reverse the damage sitting does to your health by going on an hour-long walk.   This week, WTOP reported on:  To reverse damage of sitting, take a brisk, hour-long walk.
What are the health risks of sitting for long periods?
Norwegian scientists studied over  1 million people who sat for at least 8 hours a day.   According to the researchers, this much sitting is as harmful to your health as obesity or even smoking.  A number of studies have shown that prolonged sitting can increase your risk of heart disease, various types of cancer and even an earlier death.
But it isn’t just sitting at the job.  A new trend is binge TV watching, such as watching an entire Season of a show on Netflix.   Sitting for 5 hours or more watching TV is also bad for your health.  Add the sitting at work to coming home and sitting in front of the TV for hours on end, and even a 1 hour walk isn’t enough to reverse the health damage. 
What can be done to reverse the damage of sitting?
Exercise, exercise, exercise.   Sitting at work, then walk an hour at lunch.   Jog or walk before or after work.  The goal is at least an hour of exercise to reverse the health damage of sitting for 8 hours.   For years, I had a desk job that involved a lot of sitting all day.   But at lunch, I faithfully walked with 2 walking partners and we walked for an hour each day.   I knew this was a healthy habit but didn’t know at the time that this would actually reverse the health damage of a desk job. 
WTOP quoted one of the Norwegian researchers as saying, We cannot stress enough the importance of exercise, whether it’s getting out for a walk at lunchtime, going for a run in the morning or cycling to work.
How much exercise is needed?
To help erase the effects of sitting for eight hours a day, researchers found that 60-75 minutes of exercise is needed and brisk exercise like a brisk walk.  For those who sit at desk jobs during the day and then go home and sit in front of the TV, even more exercise is needed to reverse the damage. The study authors noted that the World Health Organization recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise a day.  But this would not be enough to reverse the damage of sitting for 8 or more hours a day.
Another interesting quote from the article was from Lars Bo Andersen who co-authored a commentary about the study.  He stated, If you are walking and can feel yourself getting a little warm and your breathing is a little heavier, that’s enough.  You don’t have to be sweaty and out of breath to get the benefits. 
Going to the gym is great. But even if you aren’t working out at the gym, you can still reverse the health damage of sitting by taking a brisk walk.  So this week, take your dog out for a brisk walk before or after work.  Find some friends to start walking with at lunch or after work. 
This article notes how you can walk yourself to better health.

Walk more to reverse the damage of sitting
 

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