I must confess I was amazed to learn that simply sitting for long periods could be as the headline says, “Hazardous to Your Health and Longevity.” So, it’s not enough to exercise regularly, you also need to make sure that you don’t sit immobile for long periods.
Dr. James Levine of The Mayo Clinic says, “Researchers have linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns, including obesity and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels.
“Too much sitting also seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.”
And, most disturbing to me was that the risk was “spending a few hours a week at the gym or otherwise engaged in moderate or vigorous activity doesn’t seem to significantly offset the risk.”
Dr. Levine concludes that “Rather, the solution seems to be less sitting and more moving overall. You might start by simply standing rather than sitting whenever you have the chance.”
Dr. Mercola writes, “Avoiding the temptation to stay rooted to the couch may be particularly important for seniors. If you’re older, you’d be wise to make a concerted effort to spend more time doing low-intensity, everyday activities—anything, really, to cut down on the time you spend in a seated position.”
How does an innocuous act like sitting become harmful to my health?
“The muscle activity needed for standing and other movement seems to trigger important processes related to the breakdown of fats and sugars within the body. When you sit, these processes stall — and your health risks increase. When you’re standing or actively moving, you kick the processes back into action,” Dr. Levine concludes.
According to David Dunstan with the Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, the lack of muscle contraction caused by sitting decreases blood flow through your body, thereby reducing the efficiency of biological processes.
Dr. Joan Vernikos, former director of NASA’s Life Sciences Division wrote the book Sitting Kills, Moving Heals based on her original NASA research on how weightlessness weakens astronauts’ muscles, bones and overall health.
The good news is that it doesn’t take a lot of extra effort to get up and move around a bit if you are watching TV or at a desk job. Since the sitting in a car on a long drive is equally bad, it would probably good to take more ‘rest’ stops along the way.
Eat less; move more. Words to live by.