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Sitting for Hours is Bad for Your Health

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sitting for Hours is Bad for Your HealthMany of us sit a lot at work, in the car and at home on the couch.  That’s probably true for a lot of regular exercisers. I used to think that exercising for an hour or more a day would negate all that sitting.

Now, a growing body of evidence says that’s not true.

That’s disheartening. But it’s also a wake-up call for everyone with an office job, even avid exercisers.

We’ve all been told for decades how much exercise we should get daily or weekly, with most recommendations now saying at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week or an average of 30 minutes for five days. If it’s vigorous, it can be less.

Now, the latest research says that even people who do significant and regular exercise still increase risks of serious illness from hours of physical inactivity. In other words, you can’t just exercise for one hour and sit for eight or more without incurring some health risks.

The American College of Sports Medicine, just came out with new recommendations on the quantity and quality of exercise for adults. The bottom line is everyone needs a balanced program of cardiovascular, strength exercise, flexibility and neuromotor or functional fitness training (balance, agility, coordination).

But the ACSM further notes that “sedentary behavior for long periods of time is distinct from physical activity and has been shown to be a health risk in itself. Meeting the guidelines for physical activity does not make up for a sedentary lifestyle.

Carol Garber is the lead author of the new guidelines. In a release from the ACSM, she says, “It is no longer enough to consider whether an individual engages in adequate amounts of weekly exercise. We also need to determine how much time a person spends in sedentary pursuits, like watching television or working on a computer.”

So, we need to figure out ways we all can work in movement during the day.

Here are a few things you can do, in addition to exercising daily:

  • Walk in the office while reading reports or research.
  • Stand up while on the phone.
  • Do more exercises at the desk, such as pumping legs up and down.
  • Move for at least 15 minutes during lunch.
  • Take a quick walk after work on some days.


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