Are You Sitting Too Much ? It can be bad for Health.
Are You Sitting Too Much ?
You spend hours upon hours during the course of a week working on your mobility, yet your mobility is not improving as rapidly as you would like. In particular, you have found that you are extremely tight in your hips and your upper back. What could potentially be the cause of this constant tightness?
Most of us know that being active is good for our health. But more evidence is emerging that even if you exercise regularly, spending a lot of time sitting down can be bad for you.
People who spend long periods of time sitting have been found to have higher rates ofdiabetes, cardiovascular disease and death from all causes. This was originally thought to be because those people were more likely to be obese. But there is now evidence that even if you’re not overweight, sedentary behaviour (see definition, below) can still put you at greater risk.
The poor health effects from too much sitting are separate from whether you are physically active or not :-
- Sitting for long periods is also associated with poor mental health, such as depression (although it can be difficult to separate cause and effect), and that people feel their minds are working better when they sit less.
- Sedentary behaviour is increasingly common in a society where many of us do desk jobs, travel in motor vehicles and spend leisure time in front of computers and televisions.
- It also increases with age, particularly when ill health is a factor.
- Research into current levels of sedentary behaviour is limited, but we know that adults of working age in England average about 9.5 hours per day of sedentary time. Between the ages of 65 and 74, sedentary time in both men and women increases to 10 hours per day or more. By age 75+, people are sedentary for 11 hours per day.
Sedentary behaviour :-
- The term refers to a group of behaviours that occur when sitting or lying down while awake and that typically require low energy expenditure.
- Examples include sitting while at work, home or school; watching television; using a computer or playing video games (unless it is ‘active’ gaming, such as Wii Fit); reading; sitting while socialising with friends or family; and sitting in a car or bus.
Change of behaviour :-
- This is still an emerging area of research, so we don’t know exactly how much sedentary behaviour is too much, but current Department of Health guidelines say we should reduce the time we spend sitting.
- “There are two issues,” says Professor Biddle. “One is how long you sit for throughout the day, and we want to reduce that time. The second is how often you break up that sitting, and that is quite important.
- “We are not saying you mustn’t sit down – that would be nonsense. But when you are sitting down for long periods, try to break it up. A common sense rule of thumb is to get up for five minutes every half hour.”
Working it out :-
- It’s important to break sedentary behaviour in the workplace, too.
- Claire Higgins, 30, who lives near Glasgow, discovered the benefits when she took part in Santander’s 50 Million Steps Challenge, a pedometer challenge that raised over ￡75,000 for the BHF. The challenge was particularly close to Claire’s heart, as her daughter Sophie, seven, was born with congenital heart disease.
Active for life :-
- While it’s important to break sedentary behaviour, we should all still aim to do the minimum recommended 150 minutes of at least moderate intensity physical activity every week.
- Claire often hadn’t been taking a lunch break, but as a result of the pedometer challenge, she started using it as an opportunity to go for a walk. She and several of her colleagues made an effort to walk their children to school instead of driving. “This taught us that we often could leave the car at home, and it could be just as quick to walk,” she says.
- Since his heart attack, Danny walks and cycles a lot, goes swimming three times a week and helps withcardiac rehab exercise classes twice a week. He says: “Too many people sit back when they retire, but I believe you have to do something, whether it’s dog walking or voluntary work.