The recently released results of a new study on factors affecting life expectancy may make you want to take a stand. As in, with your own two feet.
Researchers found that sitting for more than three hours per day can reduce an individual's life expectancy by two full years, even if the person is physically active and a non-smoker! Apparently a lot of the negative effects stem from blood pooling in the legs and reducing our ability to process glucose. (It also increases the risk of blood clots.)
Further, they found that watching TV for more than two hours per day can decrease life expectancy by another 1.4 years. A previous research study had found that individuals who watched TV for more than four hours per day were about 80% more likely to die from cardiovascular disease. What makes this information particularly sobering is the fact that research also shows that the average American watches about five hours of TV per day. (Gulp!)
Now we all know by now that getting at least 30 minutes of exercise per day is good for your health. But even people who regularly exercise aren't safe if they spend the rest of their time at a desk job and as couch potatoes. Think about it! If you sleep 8 hours per day and exercise for 30 minutes, that leaves 15.5 hours. If you're allowed no more than 3 hours before health risks kick in, that leaves 12.5 hours that need to find you on your feet!
If you have a job at a desk or have hobbies, such as reading or sewing, that involve sitting, your hours perched on your posterior may add up quicker than your realize. So what's the solution. Well, as an avid reader and couch surfer, I've given this matter a good deal of thought. Here are a few suggestions, most of which I plan to try:
• Begin by obtaining a baseline of your normal routine. See how much over the 3 hours per day you're exceeding. Once you've picked yourself up from the floor, start moving!
• If you work at a desk, give yourself short breaks every hour. Take a few minutes to move around, get some water, or stop by a colleague's desk to say hello.
• Consider getting a standing desk. Many people swear by them, as being better for your posture and back. Prop your laptop up on a counter at home, and do your web surfing while standing.
• Only watch TV when you are using a treadmill, exercise bike, or other equipment that gets you off your feet. You can also watch TV just while standing, of course, but why not combine your exercise regimen with your TV habit?
• Take up a new hobby that keeps you out of your seat. Gardening, bowling, and other activities aren't necessarily vigorous, but they do keep your blood moving.
• Get out in the yard with your pets, or get out the leash and take your dog for a walk.
Remember, the idea is to get out of a sitting position, not to engage in vigorous exercise above half an hour to an hour a day. So get up out of that chair and start, er, standing!