If you’re like any average American, you’re spending on average 9.3 hours a day sitting. Sitting is so prevalent, accepted and common that we don’t even think twice about how long we sit for.
Doctors and research studies are connecting the dots between chronic diseases and sitting. The American Institute of Cancer Research reports as many as 49,000 cases of breast cancer and 43,000 cases of colon cancer are linked to a lack of physical activity. This shows the critical role that both activity and the lack of activity play in the development of cancer. There are many other sobering statistics that supports why sitting can be characterized as the “new smoking.”
To put the research in perspective: you wake up and make time to go to the gym. You spend 30 minutes walking briskly on the treadmill. You feel pretty good about yourself and you should, since you are part of the small 31 percent of adults who actually engage in any kind of regular physical activity. But the big question is what happens during the other 15 hours and 30 minutes that you spend awake? If you’re like most adults, you sit. You commute, you sit at your desk, you sit when you get home, you sit to relax with your family, you sit, sit, sit all day long. So even though you fit the traditional definition of being a physically active adult, you’re only active for actually three percent of the day. The remaining 97 percent of the time you’re sitting.
You can make one small change that will have a large impact on your overall health: add small breaks to stand or walk throughout your day. Recent research suggests that your risk of cancer goes down when you interrupt prolonged sitting with brief breaks of 1-2 minutes. Dr. Neville Owen of Australia’s Baker IDI Health and Diabetes Institute reports that breaks as short as one minute every hour can lower waist circumference, insulin resistance and inflammation.
This chart highlights the impact that regular small breaks can have in reducing risk:
(photo courtesy for the American Institute of Cancer Research)
Five Tips for Moving More
1- Put a tickler on your calendar to remind you every 60 minutes to get up and take a short walk down the hall
2- Make walking meetings a standard. Instead of sitting at the table discussing things, walk and talk.
3- During all phone calls, stand up. If you can walk around your office.
4- Stretch before you head to lunch.
5- Take a walk after dinner
It’s time to get moving!