Are you at risk for “sitting disease”?

Maybe you’ve heard it…

Sitting is the new smoking. Rather, Sitting Disease is the new smoking, and the only cure is to stop sitting and get active. This name coined by the scientific community refers to metabolic syndrome. The average person, it seems, is sitting more than half their waking hours, according to the American College of Cardiology.

Furthermore, it seems to be associated with a rise in a cluster of diseases that altogether have started to be called “Sitting Disease”.

Any extended sitting — such as at a desk, behind a wheel or in front of a screen — can be harmful. An analysis of 13 studies of sitting time and activity levels found that those who sat for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to the risks of dying posed by obesity and smoking. However, unlike some other studies, this analysis of data from more than 1 million people found that 60 to 75 minutes of moderately intense physical activity a day countered the effects of too much sitting. Another study found that sitting time contributed little to mortality for people who were most active.

Dr. Edward Laskowski MD- Mayo Clinic

What’s the answer then?

Many of us have jobs that force us to sit for hours at a time. Additionally, aging contributes as we become less and less mobile. While health professionals are calling for more studies, the answer is fairly obvious that our sedentary lifestyles are not good for us.

One solution is to maintain an active life, or as active as you can. Workplaces are torn between facing this problem head on and insuring continuous productivity, even as wellness and benefit professionals argue that the costs are outweighing the benefits of that productivity.

It’s important to remain as active as possible. A good way to measure this is with a pedometer, or step counter. There are several available for your smart phone, many of them free. This gives you a good idea how much walking you do in a day, and it can allow you to set a goal for walking throughout the day.

Living a full life

Low impact activities will keep you active; something like gardening or gourmet cooking can keep you moving and not sitting. Limit sitting activities and hobbies to thirty minute intervals when you can. The bottom line is that any activity at all is better than none. Exercise is always healthy, but it’s imperative to simply keep yourself going each day, even if that only means a nice, relaxing walk in the sunshine.

There’s a mental health aspect to keeping our hands busy as well. No matter how down bodies can get, your brain still needs stimulation. Simple hobbies and interests can make the difference no matter what your age or condition. Following interests and passions can make a huge difference in mental and physical health. Motivation is the key to avoiding sitting disease’s worst effects.

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