Stand in Spring…
Chances are you started 2016 with gobs of good intentions – from
exercising more – to eating less. Chances are equally good that
those good intentions have since evaporated amidst the busyness of daily
life. That’s where spring comes in. Think of it as the do-over season;
an opportunity to get back on track.
And ATRIO Health Plans is working to increase awareness that some of the
smallest steps can make the biggest difference. In fact, something that
you likely do naturally throughout the day – if you made a conscious
effort to do it much more often – would deliver significant health benefits.
something is the simple act of:
Sitting is the New Smoking
You’ve probably heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking.”
Although that statement is over the top, there’s a growing body
of research indicating that sitting throughout the day – which millions
of Americans do, particularly while at work – can lead to a variety
of health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular
disease, and cancer. Studies also have shown that the negative impact
of prolonged sitting isn’t counteracted by regular exercise.
Benefits of Taking a Stand
Experts contend that at work, as well as at home, people need to switch
their default settings when it comes to sitting versus standing. An endocrinologist
at the Mayo Clinic put it this way: “The default has become to sit.
We need the default to be standing.”
This doesn’t mean that every waking hour must be spent standing;
however, it’s recommended that you spend much of your day upright
or otherwise moving.
A growing workplace trend is opting for a stand-up desk. The benefits of
using a stand-up desk include:
Burning calories – Although parking yourself in a chair feels comfy, doing so comes
at a cost in terms of calories. In fact, a recent study concluded that
standers burn – on average – 50 more calories per hour than
their seated counterparts.
Preventing metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes – Scientists have found that prolonged sitting can reduce the body’s
ability to effectively regulate blood glucose levels. This can result
in metabolic syndrome – a condition that significantly increases
the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Other studies have similarly discovered
that those who sit for extended periods have significantly higher levels
of fasting blood glucose – an indication that their cells have become
less responsive to insulin.
Curbing cardiovascular disease – On this front, evidence that sitting negatively impacts the cardiovascular
system stretches back to the 1950s, when British researchers found that
London bus drivers (who sit) had a higher incidence of heart attacks than
bus conductors (who stand). More recently, scientists have determined
that adults who spend two more hours per day sitting have a 125-percent-increased
risk of developing health problems related to cardiovascular disease.
Additional studies have concluded that men who spend more than five hours
per day sitting outside of work – and who also exercise infrequently
– are at twice the risk of heart failure than those who exercise
often and sit fewer than two hours daily when not at work. Even when the
researchers controlled for the amount of exercise, those who sit excessively
were still 34 percent more likely to develop heart failure compared to
those who logged more hours standing or moving.
Lowering risk of cancer – Several studies have linked extended periods of sitting with a
higher risk of developing several types of cancer, including breast cancer,
colon cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, endometrial cancer, and ovarian
cancer. While additional research is needed to specifically determine
why sitting increases cancer risk, scientists have identified several
biomarkers – such as C-reactive protein – that are present
in higher levels among those who spend much of their time sitting, and
these biomarkers may play a role in cancer taking root.
Living longer – A multi-year study conducted by the American Cancer Society found
that men who spent six hours or more per day of their leisure time sitting
had an overall death rate that was roughly 20-percent higher than men
who sat for three hours or less. On the female side of the equation, death
rates for women who sat for more than six hours a day was about 40-percent
higher. Another study concluded that if Americans reduced the time spent
sitting to three hours per day, life expectancy would increase by two years.
Although “sitting is the new smoking” overstates the case,
there appears to be little debate that standing more frequently than sitting
delivers worthwhile health benefits.