Can Sitting Too Much Be as Dangerous as Smoking?

“…the number of lives lost from being inactive is as great as the lives lost from smoking.”

This was a conclusion of a report co-authored byMin Lee, Harvard Professor, reported on in March-April issue of Harvard Magazine.

Being somewhat of an exercise fanatic, I never would have thought this could relate to me. But it did!

Physical Activity of Canadian Adults

A few weeks ago I was experiencing increased pain and spasms that landed me in the emergency department of Sunnybrooke hospital and in the office of my neurologist. After a few tests, my neurologist concluded that I had no new stroke or seizure. However, I may be experiencing increased spasticity. The resulting symptoms of increased tightness of my muscles, which causes increased pain, spasms, and difficulty with mobility, was exactly what I was experiencing. Furthermore, I had decreased my amount of daily exercise, because I was busy working on things related to work and volunteering. However, If I want to maintain or improve upon what mobility I have been able to get back, I needed to return my focus to exercising and physical therapy!

The problem is that I was sitting too much! Sure I exercise for the minimum federally recommended 30 minutes 5 times a week, but for the rest of the time, I am mostly on the computer! Even if I go to the gym, that only requires about 1.5 hrs of standing. Since I mostly work at home, you can guess that I am rarely standing.

The fact is that is over time, many of us have become increasingly sedentary. That is, we spend too much on behaviours such as sitting for a long time in transit, using computer, watching TV, reading, and in other leisure activity that require minimum energy.

According to Consumer Reports on Heath, March 2012, “Research has found that sitting for long periods of time actually causes a slight increase in the risk of several diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and possibly cancer—even among people who meet recommended levels of daily exercise. The report states that a useful goal is to replace 6 to 7 hours a week of sitting time with standing activities.

I started consciously doing a little more walking, housework, and even cooking! You could do fun things like playing sports, playing with the kids or hobbies around the house. Just get off your butt!

Min Lee and her colleagues conducted research including over 650,000 people older than 40, over a 10 year period. They found that those participants who did about 75 minutes of brisk walking each week, or about 11 minutes a day, lived about 1.8 years longer than those who didn’t exercise at all. Those who did 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week, 0r 22-30 minutes a day for 5 days, live 3.4 years longer.

Are many people choosing not to take seriously the caution against sedentary behaviour, as well as the 150 minutes of weekly exercise, recommended by most countries and the World Health Organization (WHO)? Are we really too busy for our health?

According to the above chart only 15.4 % of Canadians get the recommended minimum amount of exercise. Do you? Why or why not.

One thought on “Can Sitting Too Much Be as Dangerous as Smoking?”

  1. Many blessings….On the ball….as always……..Stay…….Onwards…and Upwards….Blessings come in many forms….not always pleasant or painless…But Our Creator is all knowing

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