Do you sit for long periods, doing computer work, paperwork or even watching TV? That inactivity might be shortening your life.
New research out of the Mayo Clinic and the American Cancer Society indicates that people who sit for long periods of time burn fewer calories, are less sensitive to insulin and have lower levels of HDL or healthy cholesterol in their blood. All of this can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease or stroke. Even after a short period of inactivity, these negative effects start to appear.
Men who sit six hours or more during their leisure time have a 20 percent higher death rate than men more active. It is even worse for women. Their death rate is 40 percent higher if they are inactive.
Fortunately, you can counteract this problem. First, do not sit for longer than a half-hour at a time. Get up and move around every 10 to 15 minutes. Do a leg lift or get a drink of water. Just getting up and walking around your chair a few times will increase your heart rate, improve your circulation and burn some calories.
Also, plan structured exercise time. This might be a walk, a bike ride or a game of tennis. Try to do a total of 30 minutes or more a day. Sure you can do it all at once, but you might benefit more if you break it up into 10-minute segments throughout the day.
For example, walk your dog for 10 minutes in the morning, ride an exercise bike for 10 minutes during the midday news and sweep your deck for 10 minutes in the evening. If you have to, set a timer to remind you to move. You might be amazed by how much more energy you'll have. You might also notice that you are less stiff and have fewer aches and pains.
Need more reasons to exercise? Check these benefits of working out. You know exercise is good for you. But you suspect it takes too much time and effort. And you're not totally convinced it'll pay off, or how.
Won't working out make me so hungry that I'll eat more calories than I burn? Just the reverse; if you're a habitual eater who rarely notices whether you're actually hungry or not, new research shows that exercise restores the sensitivity of neurons that tell you you're full. So in the long run, it can make you feel fuller, eat less, and lose more weight. Choose a gym-free, 20-minute workout that's right for you.
Can exercise really fend off diseases such as cancer? Staying active reduces your odds of colon, pancreatic and prostate cancers. Breast cancer rates are at least 33 percent lower in women who exercise regularly; in fact, just 20 minutes of daily walking cut the rate by 38 percent in one study. And 30 minutes of physical activity five times a week reduces the threat of endometrial cancer by 34 percent.
Does it do anything else? How does helping you avoid about 25 serious conditions sound? The list includes heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, hypertension, depression, dementia, obesity and erectile dysfunction. Are you getting the right mix of cardio, strength, and flexibility training to head off these conditions?
When is it too late to start? Never. The minute you get moving, your body starts benefitting.