Move more!

Hello, my friends. I’m afraid I have to write another heavy blog entry today but after this one will be two fun entries: One on cheese (yes, cheese – the new delicious vegan kind) and I must talk about juices and juicing. A new cold-pressed bottled juice is all the rage now so I want to talk about the pros and cons

But right now, I ask you to please STAND UP and continue reading. Really. Feel free to pace while you read.

Last Friday night as I was sitting in my car, driving to the Cape, I turned on the radio to WBUR to catch On Pointe with Tom Ashbrook. His program that night was about how we need to “get off our duffs at the office.” The sitting all day might literally be killing us, he said. Not my problem, I thought, having just left my retail job where I’d walked for more than six hours. Alas, apparently that’s not good either.

Tom had a couple guests on the program. One was a Dr. James Levine, a professor and leading researcher of the “inactivity studies” at the Mayo Clinic. He is the author of Why Your Chair Is Killing You and What You Can Do About It. I later followed up on his book and read a great article published in The New Yorker called “The Walking Alive” by Susan Orlean. I wish I were tech enough to have you click directly on it here. That article (May 2013) in the American Chronicles section is worth reading.

The bottom line is that even those who exercise an hour a day are still statistically more likely to die early if they sit all day. At the very least that explained for me why several people I see at the gym every time I am there have gained weight. It might be what they eat but it might also be that they sit on their duffs all day.

I still feel better when I work out in the morning … but then I don’t sit all day. Do you?

What happens? According to Dr. Levine, “Sitting puts muscles into a sort of hibernation, cutting off their electrical activity and shutting down the production of lipoprotein lipase, the enzyme that breaks down fat molecules in the blood. Your metabolic rate drops to about one calorie a minute – just slightly higher than if you were dead. Sitting for more than two hours causes the presence of good cholesterol to drop, and, in time, insulin effectiveness plummets.”

Just slightly higher than being dead!? That’s a reason to get up and move!

The statistics are out there. And I am talking major diseases. Here’s one last quote from the journal, Annals of Internal Medicine. In the study called “Sedentary Time and Its Association with Risk for Disease Incidence, Mortality, and Hospitalization in Adults,” it was demonstrated that after statistical adjustment for physical activity, sedentary time (assessed as either daily overall sedentary time, sitting time, television or screen time, or leisure time spent sitting) was independently associated with a greater risk for cardiovascular disease incidence or mortality, cancer incidence or mortality (breast, colon, colorectal, endometrial, and epithelial ovarian), and type 2 diabetes in adults.

“Chairdom is hugely affecting humans,” Dr. Levine says. I’d say it may be deadly affecting a lot of people.

So what can we do? The other guest on the program was Dr. Alan Hedge, the director of the human factors and ergonomics laboratory at Cornell University. He talked about using a treadmill desk at work or at home. Not too many of us will do that, I imagine (though Susan Orlean does) but we can, at the very least fidget a lot, get up and pace for a few minutes, bounce on the balls of our feet, jiggle our legs while sitting. Anything to move!

I personally can’t just sit. I do laundry on my writing days. I get up, make coffee, go back for seconds. If you’re in a cubicle, you can at least stand and stretch. Dr. Hedge suggests that you sit no more than twenty minutes, stand for eight minutes, then move around for two more.

The key is to move more!! I know a lot of you have jobs where you must sit all day but …do get up, annoy your neighbor, say something. Stand for any reason, go get water, stretch. There are serious ramifications to sitting all day. Definitely walk to or at lunch. And lastly, if TV is your thing, at least stand or stretch during the commercials.

Let me know of any creative ways you have to move more, especially at work. Share them in the comment section, so everyone can read them. Together we can change those statistics.

OK, now you can sit down. High five, if you stood all this time.