Health experts call it “sitting disease.” It refers to when people spend more of their time behind a desk or steering wheel of a car or planted in front of a television than they do engage in physical activity.
According to the American Heart Association, sedentary jobs have increased by 83 percent since 1950, and technology has reduced many people’s need to get up and move. Inactivity is taking a considerable toll on public health.
A study from the University of Cambridge equated inactivity with being obese. The Mayo Clinic advises that research has linked sedentary behavior to a host of health concerns, and found those who sat for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to the risks of fatality linked to obesity and smoking. Increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol levels, and excess body fat all can be attributed to inactivity.
Mental health can be adversely affected by a sedentary lifestyle as well. Australian researchers surveyed more than 3,300 government employees and found men who sat for more than six hours a day at work were 90 percent more likely to feel moderate psychological distress, such as restlessness, nervousness or hopelessness, than those who sat for less than three hours a day.
In addition, a sedentary lifestyle can significantly increase a person’s risk for various types of cancer. A German meta-analysis of 43 studies involving four million people indicated those who sit the most have higher propensities to develop colon cancer, endometrial cancer and lung cancer.
Johns Hopkins Medical Center says research shows that high levels of exercise at some point in the day can lessen some risk, but it’s not entirely effective if most of the rest of the day a person is inactive. Risk for cardiovascular disease increases significantly for people who spend 10 hours or more sitting each day.
Various medical organizations recommend individuals get up and move at any opportunity to help reduce risks of inactivity. Erin Michos, M.D., M.H.S., associate director of preventive cardiology at the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease, advises people who are very sedentary to aim for 4,000 steps per day. Such individuals can then build up to a target of 10,000 steps daily.
The Mayo Clinic recommends these strategies to reduce the amount of time you spend sitting.
Stand while talking on the phone or watching television
Invest in a standing desk
Get up from sitting every 30 minutes
Walk at lunch or during meetings
Sedentary lifestyles can affect health in many negative ways. But there are various ways to get up and go over the course of a typical day.
-Metro Creative Connection