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Hazards of Sitting and What You Can Do About It



The number of hours you spend sitting each day can affect how long you live as well as your quality of life. According to the Institute for Medicine and Public Health, Americans spend a stunning 6 hours a day staring at a computer screen, driving or collapsed in front of the television. It’s arguably the most common health problem of America today, “sitting disease.” A recent study reveals that American’s sedentary lifestyle shortens their life expectancy.

Endocrinologist James Levine, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, did some of the original research on sitting disease.”Electronic living has all but sapped every flicker of activity from our daily lives,” Levine says. You can shop, pay bills, make a living, and catch up with friends without so much as standing up. “Key flab-burning enzymes responsible for breaking down triglycerides simply start switching off. Sit for a full day and those fat burners plummet by 50 percent,” Levine added.

When you sit for an extended period of time, your body starts to shut down at the metabolic level. Our muscles are meant for movement, when they’re immobile, our circulation slows and we burn fewer calories. The less you move the less blood sugar your body uses. Your risk for heart disease goes up too because enzymes that keep blood fats in check are inactive. You’re also more prone to depression; with less blood flow, fewer feel-good hormones are circulating to your brain.

Though nothing can replace the importance of regular exercise and eating a nutritious diet, according to a new study, we can be healthier just by being up most of the day than doing a rigorous workout. Here are some thoughts:

1.      Take the stairs.

Climbing stairs for two minutes, five days a week provides the same calorie burn as a 30-minute walk.

2.      Dance.

Dancing is both joyful and healthy. You don’t need a dance floor or even a partner to do it.

3.      Clean up daily.

Don’t wait for the weekend to clean your home. An extra hour of cleaning up per week burns enough calories to trim four pounds a year.

4.      Spend more time outdoors.

What to do outside? Walk the dog, ride a bike, or visit a neighbor.

5.      Talk standing.

Whenever you are talking on the telephone, stand up.

6.      Park on the perimeter.

Parking at the far edge of the lot could mean you take 200 strides or more.

7.      Ride public transportation.

Commuters in North Carolina, who gave up driving and started a light rail system, lost more than six pounds in 18 months.

8.      Shop at the mall.

Walking and carrying shopping bags burn 147 calories per hour.

9.      Do desk exercises.

Heel lifts, toe lifts, stretches will help prevent muscle stiffness and alleviate stress.

10.  Walk faster.

Brisk walking burns more calories strengthens leg muscles, good for the heart and lungs, and for attitude and sense of vitality.