Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sitting Disease? I Think I Have That One Covered

I'm sure you have heard the reports by now, that more than 90,000 new cancer cases each year in the US may be the result of prolonged periods of sitting.  (Get Up! Sitting Linked To Cancer - Nanci Hellmich - USA Today) Specifically mentioned are breast and colon cancer.

Researchers have known for years that there is a correlation between physical activity and the development of chronic diseases, but the latest analysis brings a lot more attention to the link.  To put it bluntly, in a study of 123,000 people researchers found that the more time people spent sitting, the higher their risk of dying early. In fact they even gave it a name "sitting disease."

Whats even more disturbing is that this isn't limited to those who are sedentary, it also applies to people who are regularly active.  For example, someone who participates in 30 minutes of aerobic activity per day, but still spends many hours in a chair is just as likely to get "sitting disease" as someone who is a total couch potato.

Personally, I have found that sitting too long makes my body stiff and grumpy, so I figured out a long time ago that I needed to get out of the office chair and move around.  Then when I started my weight loss program, I further keyed in on the fact that I wasn't burning off very many calories while parked on my butt, so I made it part of my daily routine to get up and engage in some kind of physical activity on a regular basis.

For example, most of my days are spent working from a home office (lucky me) so I usually ditch the chair once per hour and go outside and walk around my pool.  It takes 50 steps to go around the 20x40 concrete sidewalk.  40 laps equals one mile. (I never quit with the numbers!)  I don't go any set distance as I have a very busy schedule, but I still get in steps towards my minimum goal of 10,000 per day.  In addition, when I have phone calls to make, I usually do them while walking around the pool.  For rainy days, I do conference calls from a treadmill at slow speed.

Of course not everyone has the ability to go in their backyard during work hours to walk.  But don't let that be an excuse.  Even when I go to our corporate offices, I do the same basic thing, but use the back parking lot instead.  I've raised a few eyebrows walking in circles dodging cars, but its not really that difficult.  In fact its a great way to handle long conference calls, as the traffic is actually almost nonexistent which keeps the background levels low.  And I get my steps in! 

It really doesn't matter where I am, I always find a way to get up and move around frequently!  Not because of a cancer risk - I didn't know there was one - but because it is part of my daily weight management routine.

So maybe in the grand scheme of things, the link between sitting and cancer will get more people on their feet, moving towards a healthier lifestyle.

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