Sitting On Your Arse May Be Killing You

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The Healthy Lifestyle Plan Scorecard

What if I told you that sitting on your ass could kill you? From a recent study on the health risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle. The next time you sit down to watch TV all night, you may want to rethink your nightly activities.

How much time per day do you devote to physical activity on a regular basis? Did you know that adults should spend at least 30 minutes a day doing physical activity? Well, they should do it when they take care of their health.

If you're reading this column, you're probably sitting at your desk. In this case, you will not get up and walk around, and the consequences are that you may lose years of your life simply by sitting!

A study published a few days ago suggests that long periods of sitting in the UK contributed to 70,000 deaths in 2016 and cost the NHS £ 700m annually. More information on this research can be found in this Daily Mail article.

This report from the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health states that a sedentary lifestyle has been linked to 70,000 deaths per year.

A sedentary lifestyle is a type of lifestyle that involves little or no physical activity. A person who leads a sedentary lifestyle often sits or lies during an activity such as reading, socializing, watching TV, playing video games or using a cell phone / computer for much of the day. Does that describe how it is for you?

It really only gives us a health warning. Sitting can be harmful to your health. Unfortunately, more people seem to have a sedentary lifestyle than ever before. This is despite the amount of advertising that promotes the health benefits of physical activity.

I have two doctors, my left and my right leg.

G.M. Trevelyan

Research has shown that many of you spend nine hours a day or more sitting, and not just at work – because your free time is often dominated by the use of the screen, whether it's in front of the TV or on a computer or tablet surfs the Internet. This undoubtedly endangers your health.

I was training in the gym a few mornings and chatting with a guy on the next bench. I see him pushing there most days. He has Parkinson's, which can only be recognized by a slight tremor in the left arm. He knows how important it is for him to exercise regularly to ensure that he keeps the effects of Parkinson's at bay. We both understand the importance of using our body and pushing it to its limits.

We already knew that sitting for a large part of the day increased the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and death, and put a strain on healthcare. It is also a major cause of the obesity epidemic. All because people don't get enough physical activity.

The researchers say the results suggest that 11.6% of all deaths were sedentary and that 69,276 deaths could be avoided in 2016 if sedentary behavior in the UK had been eliminated.

So the message is clear. Too many people spend their free time settling down and sitting at work for hours. The cost is that this can kill you.

In truth, this is not new. The connection between illness and sitting first appeared in the 1950s, when researchers found that London bus drivers suffer from heart attacks twice as often as their bus conductor colleagues.

It is important that you move. To ward off the effects of a sedentary lifestyle, it is important to exercise more every day.

This does not have to mean any significant lifestyle changes. All you have to do is incorporate physical activity into your life every day.

By changing lifestyle, I'm talking about a variety of little things you can do, which together make you physically much more active.

  • Avoid long periods in front of a television or computer
  • Get up and move during TV commercial breaks or at least 10 minutes an hour when working at a desk
  • Instead of taking the elevator, go up and down the stairs
  • Walk around while on the phone
  • Limit the time you spend watching TV
  • Meet
  • Go over there with your car for short distances
  • Take your dog for long walks and get a dog if you don't have one.
  • Get a walking buddy or take part in a community-based activity such as dance classes and walking groups
  • Go or ride a bike to work
  • Get off at a bus stop further from your destination
  • Take up gardening, mow the lawn, rake the garden, and water your plants!
  • Play actively with the children or grandchildren

When walking, the feet, blood and mind move. And movement is life.

Terri Guillemets

For those of you who are willing to step up and really make sure that you get well through physical activity, focus on adding just 30 minutes of extra activity to your day five days a week. Get a pedometer (a device that counts the number of steps you take). Did you know that 10,000 steps a day is half an hour's walk? These 30 minutes would be the best 30 minutes you could spend on your health. According to the World Health Organization, the ideal goal is to take 10,000 steps a day to improve health and reduce the health risks posed by inactivity.

If you learn anything from today's article, sit down less throughout the day, including at work, and try to increase your daily physical activity.

Regardless of your age, physical activity is the best way to take care of our physical and mental health. Hey, it could extend your life for years.

I think that if I don't spend at least four hours a day – which is usually more than that – strolling through the woods and over the hills and fields, I can't keep my health and mind absolutely free of everyone worldly obligations.

Henry David Thoreau

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