Our modern lifestyle is making it more and more difficult to stay healthy. We’re not just talking about the decreasing quality of the highly processed food we eat, but also the decrease in the amount of exercise we do on a daily basis. The average American spends the majority of their day sitting down: at work, in their vehicle when commuting, and at home.
Want some more bad news? According to a new study, exercise isn’t a cure for the diseases that can arise as a result of sitting.
The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 2 ½ hours of moderate exercise per week. Divide that into days, and you’re looking at no less than 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. Not too hard for the average person, right?
But, as a Louisiana scientist believes, that small amount of daily exercise isn’t enough to counteract the negative effects of spending more than six hours a day sitting down. Peter Katzmarzyk, associate executive director for population and public health sciences at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, LA., believes that the effects of spending too much time sitting down cannot be mitigated by the minimum amount of exercise.
People who spend a lot of time (more than 4-6 hours per day) sitting down have a higher risk of a wide range of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorder, obesity, and premature death. Women tend to be more sedentary as they grow older, and people of a higher education level also trend toward more sedentary lifestyles.
The sad truth is that our modern lifestyle makes it all but impossible to avoid sitting down. You have to sit at your office desk to work, and it’s nice to relax on the couch or in bed after a stressful day at the office.
But what you can do is replace some of your more sedentary habits with active ones. For example, consider cycling or walking to work if you live close to your office. Instead of sitting down for six hours straight, walk around every hour for 5-10 minutes. Spend your lunch break walking around. Consider getting a standing desk or a Walkstation. When talking on the phone or in a meeting, walk around instead of lounging at your desk.
The more activity you do, the lower your risk of health problems as a result of sitting. Just the minimum amount of exercise isn’t enough to “cure sitting”. You’re going to have to invest a lot more time and effort into being active if you want to avoid health problems as a result of your modern lifestyle.
1. American Physiological Society (APS), “Regular exercisers still face health risks from too much sitting: Sedentary behavior raises disease risk, mortality rates for physically active, too.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 November 2016.