Sitting can lead to premature deathA new study suggests sitting and too little movement and exercise can increase your chance of heart failure. In fact, the study suggests that sitting for five hours a day, not including the work day, and not getting sufficient exercise, can double the risk of an early death.
According to Deborah Rohm Young, a senior scientist at Kaiser Permanente in Pasadena, California, sitting too much can increase your risk of congestive heart failure because your heart is not strong enough to pump your blood adequately.
According to Young, "This study adds to evidence that too much sitting is bad for you." And although the researchers specifically studied men, they believe the findings could probably be generalized to women too.
Who has the least risk of a serious heart condition?
The study indicated that the healthiest group of men were those who exercised the most and sat for less than two hours per day. But its not just heart-related issues that have researchers and medical experts concerned, a sedentary lifestyle has also been associated with an increased risk of stroke, cancer (colon, breast and endometrial), and type 2 diabetes.
But unfortunately, thats not all. Sitting also does not allow muscles to burn fat, it slows blood flow and contributes to the build-up of fatty acids in your arteries. Finally, sitting too long may lead to poor posture, tight back muscles, decreased hip mobility, soft bones and weak abdominal muscles.
So how much of a difference can movement really make? Researchers believe that individuals who sit less than three hours per day may be able to add as many as two years to their lives.
How do I increase my activity level and stop sitting?
Getting up and moving in our sedentary culture is a challenge. In fact, if you have a desk job you may have to schedule periodic breaks. But moving more doesnt have to be complicated.
A co-worker of mine makes hourly trips around his building. Some workers park further away and vow to always take the stairs. Others have found making a small investment in a pedometer or a FitBit, which tracks steps, stairs and activity level, can pay off in dividends.
In fact, some high level activity monitors can be worn on the wrist and allow you to set your daily activity goals. A common goal is 10,000 steps, which equates to almost five miles per day. If you work a physical job this goal can be reached simply through your daily work movements, but if you work a desk job you may have to incorporate as much as an extra hour and a half of walking to reach your goal.
So what is a realistic goal? Goals vary by age and health level, but if you are young and healthy you should be walking at least 10,000 steps per day. Add a few days of weight bearing exercises and a sensible diet and you are on the road to great health.