Sitting Decreases Life Expectancy
A recently published study in the online journal, BMJ Open, links decreased life expectancy to sedentary behavior.
- Sitting 3 hours per day, reduces life expectancy by two years.
- Watching TV more than 2 hours per day, reduces life expectancy by another 1.4 years.
- People who watch TV 4 hours a day are 46% more likely to die of any cause than people who watch less than 2 hours per day.
- People watching TV 4 hours a day are 80% more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than those who spend less than 2 hours watching TV.
- People who worked 10 years in sedentary jobs had twice the risk of colon cancer and 44% increased risk of rectal cancer.
Daily Exercise Will Not Save You
We all know we are supposed to exercise 30 minutes a day and eat right. I exercise at least five times a week and try to eat healthily. That should get me an “Atta Girl!”, but it seems it is not good enough.
Peter T. Katzmarzyk is one of the leading researchers for the study and a professor of population science at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, LA. He says you may exercise properly, but if you are inactive the rest of the day you are still at risk.
Like many people, I spend long hours at my desk, usually working on the computer. Dr. Katzmarzyk recommends standing as much at possible while doing desk work. He recommends standing when on the phone and walking down the hall to talk to someone rather than emailing them. Standing is an improvement over sitting, not a replacement for exercise.
The Blood Glucose Connection
Diabetes is associated with living a sedentary lifestyle and high blood sugar levels. The body cannot use insulin effectively or make enough to metabolize glucose in the food we eat. This results in abnormally high levels of blood sugar. Heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, nerve damage, blindness, and vascular problems can lead to amputations and other long-term problems. Sitting and being completely inactive impacts blood glucose levels.
For the last years of my parents’ lives, the stress of caregiving took its toll on my health. As I fought for health I learned (reluctantly) about the deadly impact of sugar. Auto-mimmune diseases and cancer love sugar. Only the real threat to life would motivate me cut back on sugar intake and begin to manage my blood glucose levels.
Now, this new study about sitting tells us that us that research points to a growing number of dangers in the sedentary lifestyle. People who worked 10 years in sedentary jobs had greatly increased risk of cancer compared with people who had always lived active lives. The study found that the rate of cancers linked to obesity and lack of physical activity, such as cancers of the kidney, pancreas, lower esophagus and uterus rose every year from 1999 through 2008.
Change Your Habits
Modern medicine does much to extend our longevity, but the computer age may lead to more of us dying from just sitting at the keyboard. Get up and move around whenever you can. Get a headset so you can talk on the phone standing up. Do yoga while watching TV. Watch less TV. Take your dog for more walks. Be happy when you forget your phone and have to run upstairs to fetch it. Walk everywhere.
I write this article as much for me as for any of the ElderAuthority’s readers. Most movies on TV last at least two hours. Sports last 3 and four hours. If I watch the news after the movie, I am over my TV limit. Dang! What about watching a Dexter marathon all weekend? The sad truth is that we need to keep moving and reduce sitting, PLUS exercise and watch our nutrition. It you are a lazy couch potato, you will simply die sooner. You choose.