Haims column: Another cause of mortality — sitting
Really? I’m sure everyone is titillated to learn that there is one more thing we do too much of that may just kill us. Adding to the list of harmful things we do is sitting.
It’s official. Doctors, scientists and researchers from Japan, Australia, the UK and the USA have all weighed in and agreed with Dr. Marc Hamilton from The University of Houston, “Sitting is the new smoking.”
Regardless of the level or frequency you exercise, the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer may be as much as 24 per cent higher for those that have frequent and prolonged sedentary behavior (American College of Physicians), Gym time and other vigorous activity doesn’t significantly offset the risk.
While many of us living in the mountains of Colorado are more active than most, we are not insusceptible to sitting for long periods of time. With the advent of computers, personal electronics and web conferencing, many of us now spend far less time driving and flying to conduct business than ever before. Further, many marketing, sales and IT jobs have been created that cause employees to sit in front of a computer.
Researchers and medical professionals recommend that patients get up and walk around for a few minutes every half-hour during their waking hours.
• Take a movement break every 30 minutes — walk out briskly for just 5 minutes.
• If you work at a desk for long periods of time, try a standing desk — or improvise with a high table or counter.
• Stand while talking on the phone or eating lunch.
• Position your work surface above a treadmill — with a computer screen and keyboard on a stand or a specialized treadmill-ready vertical desk — so that you can be in motion throughout the day.
• If you have a pedometer (Fitbit or other) get 200-300 steps in every 30 to 60 minutes.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), physical inactivity is now the fourth leading risk factor for mortality, estimated to account for six percent of deaths, or 3.2 million deaths globally per year.
I read an article where Dr. Mark Tremblay, director of Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, stated, “So if you’re someone who gets up and goes for your 30-minute jog religiously each day and then sits at your computer, the impact that that’s going to have on any particular health measure — mental health, physical health, bone density, blood pressure, whatever — may be different if you sit less.”
Another article I read from the Mayo Clinic referenced a study that compared people who spent less than two hours a day in front of a screen to those that spent more than four hours. The conclusions was that those with greater screen time had:
• A nearly 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause
• About a 125 percent increased risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease, such as chest pain (angina) or heart attack
The research surrounding this issue is vast and there is little doubt about the veracity — sitting is killing. It should be obvious that when you sit for long periods of time, your body goes into “storage mode.” Getting fat may be the visual effect from being sedentary, and vanity may motivate some to change course, but the effect not seen will probably kill you.
It’s only Tuesday. You could start a small change today.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Aspen, Basalt, Carbondale, and Glenwood Springs. Visiting Angels also provide homecare throughout Colorado’s mountain towns. His contact information is, http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns, 970-328-5526