Last week, researchers at the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences published an editorial online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, warning us of the dangers of prolonged sitting.
Dr. Elin Ekblom-Bak and colleagues note the benefits of regular physical activity for several major health diseases is clear and unanimous, but warn that recent studies suggest that prolonged bouts of sitting time and lack of whole-body muscular movement can undo some of the benefits even for someone who is considered “in shape.”
The editorial mentions a study published last year that tracked more than 17,000 Canadians for about a dozen years. Peter Katzmarzyk and colleagues found people who sat more had a higher death risk, independently of whether or not they exercised.
Our bodies are designed to be active. I, like many of you, sit too much. It’s a hazard of our jobs and our hobbies. It is important to do as Dr. Ekblom-Bak says: "It is important to have a five minute break from desk work every 45 minutes.”
I don’t have to give up my computer time or my sewing/knitting or my reading or my TV. What I have to do (and what you should do) is make a conscious effort to remember to stand up and move for a few minutes ever 30-45 minutes of prolonged sitting.
When watching TV, use the commercials as reminders. It’s a great time to get up and stretch or do a few lunges or maybe a jumping jack or two.
In my sewing room, I have to get up when I need to press seams. This breaks up the sitting time. I don’t always have automatic “breaks” when knitting, reading, or using the computer. I have to remind myself to do so.
Sitting time and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease,
and cancer; Med Sci Sports Exerc 2009;41:998–1005; Katzmarzyk PT, Church TS, Craig CL, et al.