The Risks of Sitting Too Much: Why You Need to Get Up from the Couch Now!

woman sitting on a work deskYou have probably heard many people say that sitting is the new smoking. Well, it seems like leading a sedentary lifestyle can indeed have ill effects to your health more than smoking. Numerous studies found that sedentary lifestyle has greater mortality rate compared to smoking.

Although there is no specific study that directly compares mortality rate of sedentary lifestyle with smoking, various studies had been conducted to determine the number of deaths for each of these risk factors.

Life Expectancies due to Physical Inactivity and Smoking

Once study conducted by the Center for Burden of Disease and Cost Effectiveness in University of Queensland, Australia followed the mortality risk associated with prolonged TV watching. Staying in front of the TV for longer periods contributed to physical inactivity, obesity and metabolic diseases (diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc.). According to the study, an hour spent watching TV reduces life expectancy to 21.8 minutes.

Another study related to physical inactivity showed that obesity could shorten life expectancy to eight years. The study, which was published in the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, compared average life expectancy in both men and women in two age groups (20 to 39 years and 60 to 79 years). The result was consistent for both gender and age groups with obese patients (BMI >30) having the highest percentage of deaths. On the other hand, a University of Bristol study calculated that for every cigarette you smoke, your life expectancy shortens by 11 minutes.

Admittedly, the studies have no direct correlation since they were conducted separately with variable factors affecting each of them. Nevertheless, nobody can negate the fact that physical inactivity can indeed shorten a person’s life because it can promote lifestyle and metabolic diseases.

Get Up that Couch Now and Move It

If you have been a couch potato for several years, now is the time to get up and get moving. While doing household chores the normal way may not improve cardiovascular fitness, you can vary the way you do things by eliminating electrical appliances while doing household tasks. For instance, instead of using a vacuum cleaner, floor polisher or washing machine, you can sweep the house with a broom, manually polish the floor or hand wash your clothes.

Walk or ride a bicycle to work. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk briskly or jog if you can. There are many things you can do to stay healthy. Get yourself an exercise home video. Enroll in dance, Zumba, Yoga, Pilates and many other fitness classes.

Those sedentary jobs are also at risk of developing metabolic diseases. That is why it is important that you create a balance in your life. When work makes you physically inactive, stop sitting in front of the television when you get home.

Another interesting study to note is that it would take at least four hours of standing and walking in order to combat the effects of physical inactivity, so going to the gym for an hour or two is still not enough to keep you fit. You must move throughout the day in order to reverse  the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

photo credit: Facilitating an Online Meeting via photopin (license)

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