Use it or lose it!

Posted by on Jan 20, 2014 in physical fitness | 0 comments

Time to Move - Clock

I’ve said it countless times and I will say it countless times more until you hear and share the message:


Even if you move everyday at the gym, move!

Findings from yet another study, this time in roughly 93,000 women, some as young as age 50, demonstrate that sitting on one’s behind for hours at a time significantly shortens lifespan. In fact, when researchers looked at the amount of time spent sitting and resting over a 12 year period, they found that idle hands (and bodies) did their own bidding and not the devil’s, leading to as much as a 12% greater risk for death from all causes, even after accounting for how mobile (and physically able) the women were, current chronic disease status, demographic factors and overall fitness. This last factor is important because it implies that even women who exercise the most can be at risk for disease and death if they have large amounts of idleness/sedentary time in addition to their physical activity!

What do the researchers consider ‘sedentary behavior?’ The highest risk appeared to occur in women who spent more than 11 hours a day on their behinds compared with their peers who spent four hours or less. Not only was this group of women at risk for death from all causes, but they also had a 13% greater odds for dying from any kind of heart disease, 27% for dying from a buildup of plaque in their arteries and 21% from cancer.

The lead researcher, Dr. Rebecca Sequin, says that excess sedentary time makes it harder to regain strength and function, noting that women start to lose muscle mass as young as age 35. This change is accelerated during menopause. The best way to counteract these declines is to engage in regular physical activity that also includes weight bearing exercise. However, again, everyday movement on top of working out is critical. 

There are steps that you can take now to counteract the detrimental effects of being sedentary. First, consider the following:

  • During a usual day (and night), how many hours do you spend sitting at any given time (e.g. sitting at work, sitting at a table eating, driving or riding in a car or public transportation, sitting watching TV or being social)?
  • During a usual day and night, how many hours do you spend lying down with your feet up at any given time or sleeping?
  • Now, add up how much time you spend sitting and lying down and subtract the amount that you are sleeping. Ideally, you are sedentary less than 8 hours a day, excluding sleep.

The key to boosting activity time is to get up and move around frequently, both inside and outside the house. Take breaks during computer time and sitting at your desk; some folks I know are also trying the treadmill desks. If you are watching TV, get up during commercial breaks (that is, if you are not DVR’ing) and move. And, if you are relying on the time spent at the gym to counteract the time sitting on your butts, change your mindset. I know that I sure have to. Use it or lose it applies to all of us!



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