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Is Sitting Killing You

By Lindsey House, RD LD Certified Personal Trainer through the American Council on Exercise


You might want to sit down for this one: recent studies have pointed to the harmful effects of guessed it, sitting. Yes - sitting too much can raise your risk of many harmful conditions.  This probably isn't the first time you are hearing this.  So you have a choice...continue to 'sit back' and allow sedentary behavior to impact your health OR read more and make a commitment to become a more active person.  You can do it!


Health conditions that are noted for those that primarily sit all day include:

- Anxiety

- Cardiovascular disease

- Deep vein thrombosis

- Depression

- Diabetes

- Colon cancer

- High blood pressure

- Obesity

- Osteoporosis

- Lipid disorders

- Kidney stones

- Mortality in elderly men by 30% and double the risk in elderly women


What’s the really bad news? The more you sit, the greater your chances of dying from all causes, including cancer and heart disease. That’s particularly bad news for those of us who sit at our desks for 8, 10 or even 12 hours a day. Our bodies were never intended for this. When you combine the negative effects sitting has on our bodies with poor eating habits, the outcome can be downright dangerous.


You can continue to stay sedentary and accept the negative consequences or you can do something about it. The key is to incorporate health and fitness into what you already do every day.


According to the Physical Guidelines of 2008 (by the US Department of Health and Human Services) the golden key guideline is to avoid inactivity! Some physical activity is always better than none, and adults who participate in any amount of activity will gain some health benefits. However, set a guideline, here are the government’s recommendations:


  1. For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should be spread throughout the week.
  2. For additional and more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate-and vigorous-intensity activity. Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond this amount.
  3. Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate or high intensity and involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.


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Remember, movement is the key. So try to move every hour and walk while you talk. You can take short 10 minute exercise breaks to keep yourself active. Park near the back of the parking lot. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Every little bit helps. While it may be overwhelming to make major changes in your daily routine, making small steps towards your goal can substantially improve your health and well-being.