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Excessive sitting, more studies, more really bad news, but what to do?

The bad news: Excessive sitting linked to disease, premature death and Sitting for long periods increases risk of disease and early death, regardless of exercise.

The amount of time a person sits during the day is associated with a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and death, regardless of regular exercise, according to a review study published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

 “More than one half of an average person’s day is spent being sedentary — sitting, watching television, or working at a computer,” said Dr. David Alter, Senior Scientist, Toronto Rehab, University Health Network (UHN), and Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. “Our study finds that despite the health-enhancing benefits of physical activity, this alone may not be enough to reduce the risk for disease.”

The meta-analysis study reviewed studies focused on sedentary behaviour. The lead author is Avi Biswas, PhD candidate, Toronto Rehab, UHN and the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto, and the senior author is Dr. Alter, who is also Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Toronto.

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What to do?

Walking during the day: Quit Sitting And Walk: Hourly 5-Minute Walks Found To Undo Side Effects Of Prolonged Sitting

Standing desk: Celebrating my standing desks and 5 tips for transitioning to a standing desk

Treadmill desk: Emma Donoghue guest posts about ‘the miracle’ that’s her treadmill desk

Set a timer: Tracy and I both write using the Pomodoro technique, short focused bursts with breaks. We use timers and that makes taking a break from sitting easy.

In the evening?: I’m good during the day–I work at a standing desk for at least half the time–but nights can be a challenge when I’m not out doing Aikido or riding my bike.  Sometimes at night I just want to watch Netflix or sit in a comfy chair with a book.  I foam roll in the evening, and there’s lots of household chores to keep me hopping. Weekends, I worry about movies. It doesn’t sound like much but 2 hours or more sitting really isn’t my thing. See Life as a shark!

What do you do to sit less?

15 thoughts on “Excessive sitting, more studies, more really bad news, but what to do?

  1. I found having 2 young children helps considerably in the quest to sit less. I admit this option is not available to all, but people are welcome to borrow mine if they wish… 😉

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  2. Constant struggle, I wrote about this last year and made this goal. Found it was easier in the summer/fall of course and like pulling teeth this winter, when it’s sooo cold outside! But I’m still doing it. Really it’s important to have some sort of activity tracker, otherwise, you’ll really have no idea. I find even with a walk outside in the snow where I’m huffing and puffing, and formal exercise (lifting or some sort of HIT training) I sill could only have half the activity I need–would never think that w/out tracking it. Anyway, that motivates me to take that extra walk. Or if at the end of the day I’m still low I add random squats in, up and down the stairs, laundry seems to add a lot since I’m running up and down and putting things away. Just knowing really, and being aware and having a goal helps tremendously. Love netflix too but if I haven’t reached my goal by the time I’m ready to watch, I may sit on an exercise ball and wiggle around instead of on the couch (while doing laundry!) :), that’ll help too!

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  3. At home, sit on the floor.

    If you keep just one thing you need within reach (e.g. water to drink), what happens when you discover you need something else? You’ll do a ‘get up’ every time (if you began not from kneeling but on your hips, then try to involve neither hands nor kneeling!).

    Feeling restless during that movie? Adjust your position to (using yoga terminology) mimic a mermaid, up-dog, or just switch from hips to shins/kneeling. My favourite is mixing squat + kneel by having one leg in each position (passively stretching one calf/heel and one quad/tib-anterior).

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  4. I just transitioned to a standing desk and I find myself dancing and stretching more as I work. I’ve also started sitting on the floor and stretching while I’m watching a movie.

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  5. I had to download an app on my chrome browser that forces me to take a break – or a timeout as it is called. A little meditation person pops up on my screen and tells me to take a break. It’s pretty great. The breaks come way faster than I would ever expect and remind me to look away from the screen and/or get up and/or relax. It’s a struggle because I always think it is a waste of time but really I know that we are all much more effective when we take appropriate breaks.

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  6. I blogged recently about this in a post on Fitness Blogging as an oxymoron…because we sit so much to write. I have found using the physio ball to sit on allows me to bounce and be active while I write or watch tv or eat. Every little bit of movement helps!

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