Thursday, February 05, 2015

Why sitting too much and being sedentary is so dangerous....

Today's Post:  Thursday, 2-5-2015

1.  Being totally sedentary has been found to be so harmful to your health that it actually has an increased death rate if you do it.

2.  Even if you do a great job and do a few minutes of vigorous strength training or short duration, high intensity cardio most days of every week, sitting too much is so bad for your health it can almost override doing a good job with exercise.

Let’s repeat that and expand each one a bit:

1.  Being totally sedentary has been found to be so harmful to your health that it actually has an increased death rate if you do it.

As recently as 100 years ago even rich people who didn’t have to do physical work who weren’t sick in bed
                   got enough moderate exercise this didn’t happen:

They walked next door to visit. They walked to the store.  They walked to the train.  

Many still lived as people in George Washington’s time and had to walk outside to the outhouse several times a day.  (George Washington’s Mount Vernon home has a great view but NO inside bathrooms!  I can verify that.  My wife and I visited.)

They had no electric vacuum cleaners and did more sweeping with a broom. Etc, etc!

And that was the case from millions of years ago to 100 years ago! 

Guess what that means!? 

Unlike air to breathe or food to eat or water to drink, our bodies send us no alarms when we need more exercise. 

That’s because virtually no one not dreadfully sick got that small an amount of exercise!

The critical problem is that at least some moderate exercise most days and a bit of vigorous exercise most weeks is as critical to your health and survival as enough air to breathe and food to eat and water to drink!

Medical News Today had this:

Lack of exercise 'twice as deadly' as obesity:
We know lack of exercise is tied to obesity - which in turn raises risk of chronic diseases and early death - but a new study shows it also links to early death regardless of BMI.

So, if you know that, if you want good health and a lower death rate risk, you need to program exercise into your week every week, ideally some on most days every week.

When compared with hours of moderate exercise every week, the good news is that you are more likely to have 10 to 20 minutes at home most mornings when you can do vigorous strength training such as super slow reps with weights you find heavy enough to have the reps be challenging --
    or some kind of progressive short duration high intensity cardio.

Even three sessions of 10 minutes of such cardio and two sessions of 20 minutes each of such strength training each week can do a great job for you.

If you also can manage some moderate exercise too that’s great and good for you also.  But that minimum of vigorous exercise you are likely to find doable even when you have close to zero time for much moderate exercise the rest of each day.

But there is one HUGE second problem:

2.  Even if you do a great job and do a few minutes of vigorous strength training or short duration, high intensity cardio most days of every week, sitting too much is so bad for your health it can almost override doing a good job with exercise.

It doesn’t override it of course as the hundreds of studies of the strong benefits of exercise show.

But it is almost as strong a risk factor as no exercise recent studies have found.

An email from Doctor Al Sears had this:

I know it’s kind of a necessity to sit at a computer these days.

But sitting for long periods of time, whether it’s in front of a screen or otherwise, can be deadly.

I’ve seen what a sedentary lifestyle does to people because I treat them every day. But what the Annals of Internal Medicine found shocked even me.

The journal did an analysis where they looked at the results of over 40 other studies. Each study looked at risk of disease and early death for people who sit for long periods of time compared with those who don’t, and the effects of exercise on both.

They found that if you sit for very long periods of time, even if you interrupt that with a vigorous workout, you’re still around 16% more likely to die of any cause than people who don’t sit for very long periods at a time. 1

That agrees with some harsh numbers from a study out of the National Cancer Institute.

They looked at more than 240,000 people, ages 50-71 years old. None had cancer or heart disease when the study started. They followed the people for eight and a half years.

People who were sedentary for more than 7 hours a day – even if they exercised every day – had a 61% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, and a 22% higher risk of dying from cancer compared to those who were sedentary for less than an hour. 2

Sitting in general is associated with a higher risk of dying ALL causes.

And for people who don’t exercise at all, the risks skyrocket. A 47% greater risk of dying from all causes, and a 100% greater chance of dying from cardiovascular disease. 100 percent!”

Medical News Today recently had this;

Though the people who exercise well are less harmed by too much sitting, too much sitting according to this is so harmful people who want to avoid disease should sit less or move while sitting or both!

".....we need exercise and need to be sitting less."

Sitting increases disease risk... and exercise may not reduce it
A new study suggests that sitting and exercise are distinct factors in terms of
health outcomes. The authors recommend that everyone reduce their sitting time
by 2-3 hours a day.  [I added that bolding.]

How can you do that?

Here are some ideas:

1.  Drink tea or chilled water several times a day at work.  This causes you to get up to do it each time; AND it causes you to make extra visits to the bathroom which you ALSO have to get up to do.

This one works for me when I have no time for anything else.

2.  Have some of your meetings inside large buildings or outside in decent weather be walking meetings!  Everyone in such meetings gets in some walking -- and time NOT sitting.

But there is a surprising extra benefit! Quite often if not most of the time, a study found that such meetings got better results than meetings where everyone sat around a table.  And the more challenging the issue or the more innovation needed to solve it, the better that seems to work.

Harry Truman, when he was the President of the US, took a daily walk of about 20 or 30 minutes that he called his “constitutional.”  Pictures from that time show that he often ran meetings while on such walks.

A modern way to do a less formal version is to go to lunch with work related friends or people from work where you walk to the restaurant or walk almost that far from where you had to park to get to the restaurant.

3.   Another way to sit less at work is to do so much more effective work per hour you can work 7 to 9 hours a day instead of 9 to 12.

There is a new book,
 “Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time”
Published  Sep 30, 2014 by Jeff Sutherland.

Use his method as much as you can do so that comes close to making sense!  You’ll get to go home earlier so you have to sit less at work.

But the upside is better than the mild promise of the subtitle.  People who use this method in teams where each skill to complete the work or task is in the team, get astonishingly BETTER results.

They can often do significantly better, more error free work, in days that more people NOT using the method can’t do in months or even years!

4.  Do a 30 or 60 second exercise break a few times a day.

a) Clint Eastwood used to fill time in between getting projects done or as a personal quick reward by just doing a fast set of pushups or sit ups.

And, just yesterday I found an interesting one.  Do the kind of squats people used to use instead of chairs when they ate or met informally.

b) Carefully squat down until you can rest your upper arms on your thighs and cannot go down farther.  If you need to at first to get up and down safely use an arm touching a well or pillar for balance.

Work up to where you can get up and down comfortably without that.  Then gradually build up from where ever you start.  (I tried a count of 20 at first.)  Then simply work up to doing a full minute three to five times a day.

5.  The devices now sold are NOT very usable and most cannot be retrofitted to the desks and offices people use. They also cost far too much to be in much use yet. 

But when you can, doing moderate exercise AT YOUR DESK while working is another solution.

In writing this post I was able to ride an at my desk recumbent bike for 42 minutes, for example.  (Doing that once a day Monday through Friday for 210 minute total breaks up my sitting; and the estimate I read says it also burns 700 extra calories per week!)

My pace was quite moderate so I was able to concentrate.  But, it’s too big for most offices and limits my ability to reach files and notes and the like from where I sit.

This is such an important need, the first company that produces a solution that CAN be retrofitted to the desks and offices most people use at a quarter or less cost per desk as current solution  and sells it well will be extremely successful.

( I know a design that does exactly that but have no time or money to develop it.  If YOU do, email me at .  I’d be delighted to give it to you!)

3.  At home, there are three ways to sit less:

a) Sharply limit your TV watching time to 10 to 15 hours a week or less!  (Most people watch 21 hours a week or more. Some people even watch over 42 hours a week of TV.)

When you watch TV, you burn less calories than you do while sleeping.  And other than PBS, most of the ads are for foods and drinks that harm you and make you fat.

ONLY watch shows or programs that you like a lot.  Delete watching anything else. 

If you can watch a delayed broadcast with the commercials deleted or a TV movie where the video starts AFTER the previews and other ads do that. 

Unless it is very important or might threaten you and is local and is breaking news, mostly ALWAYS avoid watching TV weather or news. 

Getting that news online is dramatically faster!  You have no time lost to watching commercials. You only read more of stories that interest you and you can skip news not important or of interest to you.  And you can read the news as much as four times faster than you can watch and listen to it.

This one has an extra bonus:  People who limit TV this much every week are significantly less fat than people who do not!

b) If you have the money and space, for most sports and entertainment shows, watch them while riding a stationary bike at a low moderate pace.  That cuts your sedentary sitting even more/.
6.  If you can do some out of the house errands or housework or tidying up at home most days that involves standing or walking do that.

Doing the dishes – even putting them in the dish washer and putting them where they  go or sweeping the front walk -- a few times a week research found has significant health benefits even if people do no other exercise compared to people who don’t.

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