It isn’t uncommon these days for people to spend the better part of their day sitting. Many of us go from our car, to the office, back in our car, straight to the dinner table, and then park ourselves on the couch for the rest of the evening.It’s believed that an average person literally spends half their day sitting.
We’ve all heard the anti-aging fitness advice that it’s important to stay active as you get older, but now there’s even more reason to start moving. A new study has uncovered some scary proof that spending too much time on our backsides is actually shortening our lifespans.The research, which was published in Annals of Internal Medicine, looked at 47 studies about how sedentary lifestyles impact health. The extensive review revealed that being sedentary for prolonged periods was linked to a 15% to 20% increase in heart disease and cancer risk, a 90% increased risk for developing type-2 diabetes, and even a 15% to 20% higher risk of mortality.
What if you’ve got a solid anti-aging fitness plan? There are plenty of reasons why anti-aging fitness is necessary for aging well—it contributes to weight loss, improves balance and stability, maintains bone and muscle mass, boosts cognitive function, and can even improve the look of skin. But according to this recent study, it doesn’t get you out of the danger zone completely.
Although the increased risk was less pronounced for people who were active and followed some sort of anti-aging fitness plan, exercising alone wasn’t enough to offset the risk completely. “If is not good enough to exercise for 30 minutes a day and be sedentary for 23 and a half hours,” explained Dr. David Alter, one of the study’s co-authors.
In order to really lower your risk of disease and premature death, you need to incorporate more anti-aging fitness and reduce the amount of time you spend sitting down, rather than simply replacing one for the other. As Dr. Alter suggests, “They are both important to do, and do more of.” That’s why he recommends that in addition to exercising, you should also try to consciously reduce how much sitting you do in a 12-hour day by at least two or three hours.
Here are some useful strategies to help keep you moving throughout the day:
• If you sit at a desk all day, make it a point to get up at least once an hour and walk around for a couple of minutes. Set a reminder on your phone or computer so you don’t forget. It also helps to keep your snacks and lunch somewhere else in the office instead of right at your desk, so that you’re forced to get up when you want them.
• Use commercial breaks when watching TV to get up and walk around a bit. Also try watching the last 10 to 15 minutes standing. To add even more to your anti-aging fitness routine, add a bit of a workout while you’re watching TV—even standing stretches will help.
• Write down exactly how much time you spend being sedentary, whether it’s sitting or lying down, over the course of a week. When you see it tracked on paper, it’ll be easier to pinpoint where you can add more movement.
• Consult an expert about your anti-aging fitness plan. They can target exactly what exercises your body needs and build a plan that’s best suited to you.
• Monitor your diet. Certain foods can make you feel lethargic, which will only make it harder for you to get up and stick to your anti-aging fitness routine.
• Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, so that feeling tired and sluggish can’t hold you down the next day.
• The easiest way to add to your anti-aging fitness plan throughout the day is to always skip the elevator and take the stairs.
Biswas, A., et al., “Sedentary Time and Its Association With Risk for Disease Incidence, Mortality, and Hospitalization in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis,” Annals of Internal Medicine 2015; 16(2): 123-132.
Leung, M., “Sitting for prolonged periods increases risk of death, disease: study,” CTV News web site, January 19, 2015; http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/sitting-for-prolonged-periods-increases-risk-of-death-disease-study-1.2196067.
Ubelacker, S., “Sitting for too long can kill you, even if you exercise: study,” CBC News web site, January 19, 2015; http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/sitting-for-too-long-can-kill-you-even-if-you-exercise-study-1.2918678.