Does sitting for extended periods really affect longevity?
Everyone knows that lack of physical activity can make weight loss more difficult and can contribute to general health issues, like fatigue, depression and insomnia. Even more alarming, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of death, worldwide.
What we are becoming increasingly aware of is just how significant the amount of time you spend sitting is. It is now believed that it has a direct relation to how long you will actually live. Recent studies have gone so far as to say this is true even if you engage in regular exercise.
Unfortunately, sitting is a way of life for a large portion of our population, both in our work and leisure time. Many office workers rarely have the opportunity to get away from their desks, other than at lunch and maybe a short break, during their entire eight-hour shift. The rest of the day may include errands and a few activities but, more often than not, a good chunk of time is spent on the couch in front of a television.
It would be easy to believe that we can sit all day and make up for it by hitting the gym a couple times a week or going for a run, but, according to this new research, adding exercise, while beneficial, does not cancel out the dangers of sitting too many hours during the day. If we want to live longer we have to do the things we already know are important, like eating a more nutritionally sound diet and getting a reasonable amount of exercise, but we also have to address this issue of the amount of time spent sitting.
Suggestions for Counteracting Sitting Too Long
- Stand up every hour even if only to stretch and walk around your desk
- Set a timer to remind yourself of how long you have been sitting
- Consider one of the “stand-up” or treadmill desks
- Walk to the water cooler several times a day
- Walk anytime you can instead of driving
- Trade your chair for a stability ball. You will at least be engaging your core abdominal muscles.
Before you dismiss these suggestions as too simple to make a difference, consider the results of a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that found that adults sitting for more than 11 hours a day have a 40 percent increased risk of dying within three years compared to those who sit for four hours or less. The concerns increase with age as the elderly tend to not only sit for the majority of the time but also spend less and less time engaged in any sort of physical activity.
The good news is that it only takes a little consistent effort to make a big difference in your quality of life. Start with a couple of these suggestions to break up and reduce the amount of time you spend sitting and build your way up to doing as many of them as you can. As you progress on your journey to improved health, the Southern California Center for Anti-Aging can offer programs and services that will enhance your efforts. Take advantage of our Free Consultation by calling (424) 247-4962 or click here to use our convenient online form.