A study recently reported in the New York Times Well blog by Gretchen Reynolds is just plain scary and eye opening. If you sit all day, it doesn't matter if you exercise regularly, you can still be considered a couch potato at risk for all the same health issues. What?!!!
We all know that sitting all day is not healthy. It makes us feel lethargic and less than vital. But I always thought the effects of sitting for eight hours a day at a desk could be undone with regular exercise. Well this study says NO.
A growing body of science suggests that prolonged inactivity, a practice known more familiarly as sitting a lot, is both widespread and unhealthy. In a representative study published last month in The Archives of Internal Medicine, Australian researchers compared medical records and lifestyle questionnaires for more than 220,0000 Australian adults 45 and older.
They found that the more hours the men and women sat every day, the greater their chance of dying prematurely. Those people who sat more than eight hours a day — which other studies have found is about the amount that a typical American sits — had a 15 percent greater risk of dying during the study’s three-year follow-up period than people who sat for fewer than four hours a day.
So what they found was...
It seems that after exercising, the study authors concluded, people “substitute either lighter and/or sedentary activities.”
David W. Dunstan, a professor at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Australia, who has studied inactivity and wrote an editorial to accompany the new Australian paper, says he found the study fascinating. By measuring muscular inactivity using electromyography, he says, “the measurement is getting closer to the heart of the sitting problem, that being a problem of muscular disuse.”
Dr. Finni agrees. Although she and her colleagues did not look directly at the downstream biochemical effects of the inactivity, she says, their results suggest that normal exercise, which fills so few hours of even active people’s days, “may not be enough in terms of health.”
Maybe it's time to get work stations that allow for more movement? Perhaps we should be standing at attention to our workstations? Or maybe we should be all get Google Glasses and start walking on a track together in our work teams answering emails and sweating at the same time. All I know is that there's a great need for some serious evolution in the way we work. And sitting just isn't ever going to get good for us.
To me being healthy is all about finding balance. Overdoing it in any way towards any extreme is a sure fire way to get out of balance and create a state of tension and depletion in our bodies.
Trust me. I know all about over doing it! I'm no angel on this front. That's the main reason why I want to help raise my clients' awareness about the tendency to overdo things in our society. Whether it be about working too much or thinking more and more exercise makes us healthier or going on overly restrictive diets. At the heart of these behaviours is the feeling of not being good enough. And when we fail at being perfect, the pendulum can swing in the opposite direction of feeling like a failure and giving up altogether in making changes.