Is Sitting Too Much The New Smoking?
Cigarette smoking, as well as secondhand smoke, kills more than 480,000 Americans each year. This makes it the single largest preventable cause of death in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
But an even greater threat faces our population’s health. The dangers of smoking are well-documented. Inactivity—sitting too much—sneaks in as a silent killer.
Researchers are going so far as to call sitting “the new smoking.”
“Sitting,” says Dr. James Levine, a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist
, “is literally bad for you.”
Hidden Dangers of Sitting Too Much
Researchers discovered that people who watch four hours or more of TV per day have a 50% greater risk of early mortality and a 125% higher risk of cardiovascular disease
But it’s not just screen time that poses a threat. Sitting for prolonged periods—at work or in the car—can cause or exacerbate Type 2 Diabetes or heart disease. It has even been linked to a host of cancers
, including prostate and breast cancer.
Sitting: How Much Is Too Much?
Over 15 years of research, Dr. Levine discovered that individuals who sit more than six hours per day
face increased risks of a number of diseases and health conditions ranging from depression to obesity. It can all add up to a shortened life span.
What’s even worse news?
Exercising the recommended three to five times a week for at least 30 minutes won’t offset the health risks of a sedentary lifestyle.
Working Americans tend to sit about nine hours each day, which includes sitting in the car during their daily commute.
The only solution seems to be a lifestyle that minimizes sitting.
Sitting Less at Work
Young or old, we can all benefit from moving more. For those still in the workforce, significant lifestyle changes can make a difference.
Here are a few ideas you can try:
· Invest in a treadmill desk
· Build a standing desk
· Instead of email co-workers, walk across the office to speak face-to-face
· Park further away from your office
· Take the stairs instead of the elevator
· Walk while you’re on the phone
Protect Your Health
Retirees may have an easier time fitting activity into their lives, but it still requires a concerted effort. In addition to planning time for physical activity—from tai chi classes to walking—consider learning new hobbies that require or encourage standing. For instance:
· Scrapbooking at a standing desk
· Painting at an easel
Turn sedentary activities physical, too. Consider using a treadmill or elliptical machine while watching TV, reading or browsing the Web on a tablet.
Once you make movement a daily habit, it’s not hard to keep an active lifestyle after retirement.
Change Your Philosophy for Better Health
Sitting may be the new smoking due to its health risks, but that doesn’t mean you need to give up trying to be healthier.
Avoid “couch potato” activities such as watching TV or playing on the computer when you’re not working. Consider ways you can squeeze physical activity into your daily life—at work or at home.
Five Star Senior Living provides a number of activities to ensure our residents never have to sit too much. Find out about our Lifestyle360 program
designed to encourage an active lifestyle for all our residents.