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Sedentary Lifestyle Risks

We are all aware of the negative health effects of smoking and how hazardous it is to one’s health. There have been laws passed like the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act of 1971 that prevented advertising of cigarettes on TV and radio and more recently anti-smoking campaigns like “Know the Truth” which are geared toward today’s youth. Significant progress has been made to reduce the prevalence of smoking, but with advancements in technology and ease of access to the Internet there is a new and possibly more dangerous health concern: a sedentary lifestyle.

Why is sitting the new smoking?

According to a study published in the October 2012 edition of the British Journal of Sports Medicine, each hour of sitting and watching TV reduces the lifespan by 22 minutes while a person loses 11 minutes from their lifespan per cigarette smoked. It is twice as dangerous to be sedentary than it is to smoke! We aren’t just sitting while watching TV however, most of us sit while we commute to work, several hours per day while we are at work, during our lunch breaks and then again when we unwind from a stressful day on the job.  Worry not! There are several small adjustments that can be made during the day and increase how much we are moving:

  1. Set an alarm and get up from your chair each hour. Take a few minutes and go for a walk around the house, grab some water, go chat with a neighbor; anything that gets you up will do.
  2. Set a few minutes aside when you’re having lunch to go for a walk with your friends or neighbors
  3. Organize a neighborhood walking group
  4. Park as far from the entrance of your destination as you can (when you go on errands to the grocery store, doctor’s office, etc.)
  5. Take the stairs instead of the elevator/escalator
  6. When watching TV, use the commercial breaks as a time to exercise. Stand up and sit down a few times or simply walk around the room for the entirety of the commercial break.
  7. Schedule your exercise like you would any other appointment.
  8. Better yet, join an exercise class designed for older adults – whether at your gym or even at your doctor’s office (Iora Primary Care holds regular classes for our patients and the community) that keep you moving at the pace you want.

I hope that you found these tips helpful. The most important thing is to get moving as much as you can every day. Find something that brings you joy and fits into your lifestyle because the most effective activity is the one that you actually do.

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