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sitting1Like obesity or smoking prior to it, “sitting” looks to be the latest lifestyle challenge with a current focus in the news. A recent study suggests that sitting for prolonged periods of time increases risk for chronic disease, even among people who exercise regularly. Researchers conducted a review and meta-analysis of published research to evaluate the association between sedentary time and health outcomes.

Evidence showed that prolonged sitting is associated with negative health outcomes and mortality. The most pronounced outcomes were in people who never exercise or do so only occasionally. Excessive sitting can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Even exercising the recommended half-hour a day may not be enough to ward off the long term effects of sitting.

The human body is meant to move, not sit still. “The leg muscles are the largest in the body, in terms of skeletal muscle,” says Peter Katzmarzyk, a professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, LA. “When you sit, you’re deactivating them.” Our metabolism begins to slow down in as short a time frame as one hour. As it declines, the body becomes less efficient at removing sugar and fat from the bloodstream, causing them to build up and insulin levels to spike.

TV watching is the most widely studied form of sedentary activity because people tend to have a good idea of how much television they watch. It’s estimated that every hour spent watching TV shortens your lifespan by 22 minutes. Yikes!

And even if you’re not a big TV watcher, it’s likely you’re still sitting. Looking at an iPad, computer, video game, or even relaxing with a book are most likely done in the sitting position. Time spent sitting at your desk at work or in a car is a little harder to quantify, but adds to the daily total. Medical consensus? Too much sitting is deadly—no matter what kind.

Tips to Reduce Sedentary Time

Are there opportunities in your daily routine to move more? Review the following suggestions to see if any of these tips will work for you.

• Take a 1-3 minute break every half hour to stand or move around.
• Stand up while watching TV. Even better, use the opportunity to walk on a treadmill, swing a hula hoop, or do some push-ups.
• Invest in a standing desk at work. If a purchase is not possible, think about sitting on an exercise ball instead of a regular chair for part of the day. Balancing on a ball helps strengthen core muscles.
• Set the alarm on your phone or get an app that will give you regular dings to remind you to get up and move. Sometimes when we’re really involved in a project or assignment, it’s easy to lose track of time.
• Repetition. Once you make movement a priority, it will be easier to remember to get UP.

Bottom Line
There’s a quote that asks, ‘What fits your busy schedule better: Exercising an hour a day or being dead 24 hours?” When stated in those terms, exercise (even if it’s just standing) doesn’t look so unappealing, does it?

Written by: Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Liz Smith, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, smith.3993@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

Sources:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19346988

http://www.sedentarybehaviour.org/tag/peter-katzmarzyk/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3404815/

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