live it active

The truth about sitting…

Statistics Canada recently reported that only 15% of adult Canadians meet the Canadian physical activity guidelines. The guidelines recommend that adults exercise for 30 minutes per day at a moderate to vigorous intensity all or most days of the week. So what is the remaining 85% of the population doing?

Sitting – well, for the most part.

Approximately 69% of Canadians waking hours are spent in sedentary pursuits. Sedentary pursuits include a variety of sitting activities such as reading, writing, television watching, computer time and time spent in travel. In recent years the study of “sedentariasm” has become extremely popular. This is largely due to the introduction of a variety of tools that can objectively measure activity patterns outside the laboratory setting. Most will know the pedometer that measures the number of steps one takes, but many will not have heard of the accelerometer. Instead of counting steps it measures movement. Researchers have been able to link activity patterns measured using such tools with a variety of health outcomes.

So what have they found? Well, simply that sitting is bad and being active is good. Sedentary time has been found to have independent and deleterious effects on a variety of metabolic pathways in your body. Unfortunately, these changes that happen due to prolonged sitting are not necessarily reversed by exercising. Even if you meet the Canadian physical activity guidelines but spend the majority of your day sitting at a desk you are at a greater risk for premature mortality than those who have more active occupations and lifestyles.

So what do you do? Do not worry, changing your occupation or completely revolutionizing your lifestyle is not necessary.There are some simple solutions that will improve both your short- and long-term health.

Firstly, break up the time you spend sitting at your desk. Take the stairs to the washroom on the floor above or below. Instead of taking the elevator or the escalator, take the stairs. Breaks in sedentary time have been found to confer added health benefit.

Think about purchasing a standing computer work station. Not only will this break up your sitting time it is also great for improving joint problems, blood flow and preventing blood clots.

Critically think about how much television you watch – do you need to watch it? If you do enjoy your T.V. time (which I do) get up during the commercials. I like to save washing the dishes right after dinner so that I have to get up during commercials to get them done. Stretch while you are watching T.V. It feels great and as the saying goes, kills two birds with one stone.

Sitting time is impossible to avoid, but not impossible to make adjustments to. Take the time to think about some simple changes you can make to break up and alter your sitting time. You will be doing your internal workings a world of good.



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  1. * Richard Broadwith says:

    An just going out to do some snow shovelling – been sitting around all morning – any dangers in snow shovelling for a 66 year old

    | Reply Posted 7 years, 1 month ago

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