Column: In the age of convenience, sitting is the new smoking

By: Lisa Lounsbury

 | Apr 17, 2014 - 10:53 AM |
Sounds a bit dramatic doesn’t it? The reason the medical and wellness industry is comparing prolonged sitting to smoking is because there is sufficient evidence to suggest inactivity kills more people than smoking each year. And the majority of the workforce is sits most of the day.

The Mayo Clinic has identified some risks associated with sitting that include obesity, metabolic syndrome, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Those conditions are quite dramatic.

Dr. Emma Wilmot of the diabetes research group at the University of Leicester in Britain found the least active (those who sit most of the day) had a 147-per-cent increased risk of heart attack and stroke; a 112-per-cent increase in risk of diabetes; 90-per-cent greater risk of dying from a cardiac event; and a 49-per-cent greater risk of premature mortality.

We are sitting all the time. We sit in the car, at our desk, on the couch, in restaurants, in airplanes, in waiting rooms — just about everywhere. There seem to be more opportunities for us to sit than any other position.

Long gone are the days when we actually had to stand up to change the TV channel, talk on the phone, do our banking or get a coffee at the coffee shop. The wonderful world of technology and convenience is starting to make us sick, very sick.

According to Statistics Canada, only 15 per cent of adults and 7 per cent of children get the minimum recommended daily amount of physical exercise. Here is more bad news — even if you have an intense workout during the day for up to an hour, it still might not reverse the effects of a sedentary day.

But here's the good news: All that is required is “light ambulation” or light physical exercise throughout your day.

Stand up when you are talking on the phone, walk around in between meetings or projects, consider walking over to talk to your colleague instead of sending an email, go for a walk during your lunch hour — train yourself to move for at least two minutes for every 30 minutes of sitting.

Or better yet, spend your day like it’s 1975!

Do your body good and start moving. Just think, if all you had to do was move all day long then you wouldn’t have to drag yourself to the gym to stay healthy. Don’t let a preventable condition like too much sitting shorten your life.

Lisa Lounsbury is the founder of New Day Wellness, a corporate wellness coach, certified personal trainer, fitness leader and a nutrition and wellness specialist.

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