By Magdalena Romanska
Ph.D., Fitness Specialist
One of my beloved trainees recently walked into my studio and asked if I had read the "USA Today" article on the "Sitting Disease." Her inquiry re-ignited my interest in health studies conducted on the effects of prolonged sitting.
The risks of being inactive and sedentary - at your desk, in front of the TV, at the kitchen table, behind the wheel of your car, etc. - apply to ALL of us. Even those of us who exercise daily are endangered!
According to the latest research, exercising for the assigned 45 minutes a day won't counteract the effects of staying seated for the rest of it. Not only was this a big surprise to the health researchers, it also stunned scores of devotees who exercise daily.
The main perils of the sedentary lifestyle are scary. To list a few: high mortality from cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, obesity, and metabolic syndrome (a combination of high blood pressure, elevated sugar levels, high LDL and low HDL levels, and excessive fatty tissue around the waist). In addition, choosing to sit on our bums for long periods increases our risk for diabetes type 2, back and neck pain, weakened core muscles (often the cause of falls in the elderly), plus it negatively affects cognitive function, creativity and mood.
A study from Australia's Sax Institute reported that those who are sedentary for 11 or more hours a day run a 40-percent higher risk of death over the next 3 years. Yes, this is very scary - particularly in light of the data that most American office workers spend approximately 13 hours a day sitting down!
Do this simple calculation: from 24 hours in a day subtract the time you sleep, then the time you are moving around or exercising. What remains is the number of hours you sit, day after day...month after month! So, each hour you stay seated translates into increased risk for your health.
When we are active, our sensitivity to insulin increases, which in turn causes improved hormonal levels, reduction of fat cells and decreased inflammatory processes in our body. Since bodily movement throughout the day is an investment in your health, why not try stretching every hour while at your desk, taking short walks whenever possible, using a pedometer to count your daily mileage, balancing on a Swiss ball when you're sitting, standing up while on the phone, or while watching TV. As an added bonus, you can do some jumping jacks, squats, yoga poses or push-ups during the commercials. Set the watch or the phone to sound an alarm at every 45 minutes, as a reminder to get up from the desk and move.
It's never too late to start moving your body in order to maximize your overall health. You can start by adding steps to your day in simple ways, such as parking your car as far from the grocery store entrance as you can, or picking up the pace of your house cleaning, gardening, and your regular walk. Movement to increase your strength and balance can even become part of your daily routine, like brushing your teeth while standing on one leg, or extending that airborne leg to the side for a count of 10!
Offering folks an arsenal to fight their sedentary habits is part of my job as a certified trainer. Helping you get stronger and healthier is my passion. So, to avoid becoming a casualty of the "Sitting Disease," isn't it time to get up from that chair and take a stand for your health today?
Magdalena is the owner of the "Be Fit Fit" Personal Training Studio (www.befitfit.biz). Her "Be Fit Fit" Blog can be read on www.verdenews.com