“41 percent of Americans (do) less than 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times per week. About a third of males are physically inactive, compared to 47.4 percent of women – a difference of almost 14 points.” ~ The Lancet
How much do you sit?
Ponder this question for a couple of minutes – and be honest with yourself. Let’s do a bit of sampling from the U.S. population. All of these numbers are averages derived from reputable sources, e.g., Gallup.
– The average commute time in the U.S. is approximately 25 minutes one-way, or 50 minutes total.
– The average American logs around 35 hours of work per week (~ 7 hours per day)
– The total (so far): ~ 8 hours sitting (minimum)
– 36 percent sit for another 1-2 hours watching TV
– 10 percent play video games for 1-2 hours
– 25 percent lounge around for 1-2 hours
– 29 percent use their P.C. for 1-2 hours
– Average time sitting: ~ 13 hours
– Average time sleeping: ~ 7 hours
Total amount of sedentary (inactive) time: ~ 20 hours
Reality Check Time
“I’m doing this for your own good.” Remember your mom or dad saying this before talking some sense into you? (Or trying to.)
Well, we’re saying this for your (and our) own good. You are (again, including us) probably sitting on your butt for much longer than is healthy. It’s much better to grudgingly accept this fact now than wait for some ailment to threaten your quality of life.
So, first, we’re going to go over the reasons why you should get off of your derriere. Second, we’re going to provide some excellent (if we may say) and time-effective ways for doing so.
Let’s do this!
Health Experts Urge People To Get Off The Couch Before It’s Too Late
Okay, good news or bad news? After reading “The Study” subheading, you probably know the salty stuff is coming first. “Dinner before dessert,” remember? (Why all the parent talk? *Shrugs*)
Studies are about as fun to research and disseminate as performing your own root canal. So, this writer will spare you the dental procedure and cut the research down to parts:
– Sitting 13-14 hours increases your risk of death from heart disease.
– The more you sit, the higher your blood sugar, cholesterol, triglycerides, and even waist size.
– A 10-year study, published in The Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences of participants aged 50 to 71 years, found “those who tended to sit the most and move the least had more than three times the risk of difficulty walking by the end of the study.”
– The same study also reports “those who watched five or more hours of TV (had) a 65 percent greater risk of reporting a mobility [disability].”
T.V. and Tech Ain’t Helping
Loretta DiPietro of the Milken School of Public Health at George Washington University doesn’t mix words when it comes to TV and ill health:
“Sitting and watching TV for long periods, especially in the evening, has got to be one of the most dangerous things that older people can do.”
Bear in mind that Dr. DiPietro was referring to a study conducted in the mid-90’s to 2005. Given that use of streaming services, a la Netflix and YouTube, have seen a sharp increase since then, the problem is much likely worse.
“Even 5 minutes is better than nothing.”
That’s an actual quote from an actual doctor – and it’s true. A simple solution? Get out of your chair every half-hour and “stand up, march in place, jump around, kick legs – do anything to move for at least one to two minutes.”
For a healthy and mobile person, there is no excuse not to do something as easy as getting up and moving for a minute or two.
One tough lady…
Let’s look at 61-year-old Denver businesswoman Liz King. Ms. King is an entrepreneur who spends eight hours “at least, (looking) at the screen and sitting in the chair.”
As many of you business owners out there know, you don’t just “punch in and punch out.” Most business owners spend far longer than eight hours at their computers. They’re on the phone with customers, looking after employees, and handling administrative tasks for 10-plus hours a day.
Despite her crazy schedule, the 61-year old manages to get in a “brisk” 20-minute walk every day. This lovely woman may take a picture or two of the “occasional wildflower” on her stroll, but she doesn’t slack.
Every time we write an article about anything exercise or health-related (usually the two are mutually inclusive), we try to include the following phrase:
“Exercise DOESN’T need to be boring or time-consuming!”
One more time? Let’s all repeat this together – and with some gusto!
“Exercise DOESN’T need to be boring or time-consuming!”
It doesn’t matter what you do. If you enjoy walking like Ms. King, by all means, walk for 20-30 minutes.
If you love to shoot hoops, that’s exercise!
If you love to ride your bike, that’s exercise!
If you love Jai Alai, that’s exercise! (Do you? I’ve never found anyone.)
Anyways, you get the picture. It’s as simple as finding something you enjoy and breaking a sweat three times per week.
For the less mobile, we aren’t leaving you out of this conversation. (As the Grandson/Caregiver of a disabled man, this writer is particularly sensitive.)
Obviously, your doctor is probably the best person with whom to discuss exercise. For my Grandfather, it was getting him to accept the idea of using a cane. This was not an easy task. He’s a proud, strong old guy – and the doctor (along with myself) got scolded a few times.
But he uses it and is now more mobile. He’s even shed a couple of pounds.
Suppose if there’s a lesson to be derived from this writer’s experience, it’s finding a way to fit some physical activity into your life – and putting the excuses to rest.