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Time to Get Off Your Butt…Literally.

July 27, 2010

Bad news for desk monkeys and couch potatoes. A new study from the American Cancer Society has linked time sitting on your rump to mortality risk.

What it says:

The study found that daily time spent sitting down was correlated to total mortality (death from all causes) regardless of the subject’s level of physical activity. The study was based on self-reported data between 1993 and 2006 from 123k subjects with no history of serious disease. Results showed that women who sat for more than 6 hours per day were 37% more likely to die during the study than women who sat for less than 3 hours per day. There was an 18% reduction in death among men who sat less than 3 hours compared to those who sat for more than 6.

This relationship was maintained even when results were adjusted for level of physical activity. However, there was a dramatic difference when sitting hours were combined with lack of physical activity. For subjects with the most hours sitting and least physical activity, death rates increased 94% and 48% for women and men respectively over the subjects who sat the least and were the most active.

What it means:

A workout a day isn’t going to cut it. The study suggests that you can’t undo an otherwise sedentary lifestyle with isolated bouts of exercise.

You need to get active in life: walk to the store, play with the kids/dog, find active hobbies, walk around the house while you’re on the phone. Keep your butt off the chair.

What Can I Do?

The difference between 6 hours sitting and less than 3 is a big gap. It is obviously difficult for office workers to avoid sitting during the day, but the message here is to get active when you can. For those of us (that’s me, too!) who work at a desk, we need to commit to spending the rest of our time moving.

Study after study gives us the same message: You can’t ensure health by adding good to bad. Working out once a day, eating a cup of blueberries, parking farther from the store. These are all good practices. To really protect health, these behaviors need to be the basis of your lifestyle.

Photo: Banalities
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