One Hour of Activity Offsets Risks From 8 Hours of Sitting


We have all heard by now of the dangers of too much sitting, but for those of us with sedentary jobs, there is now good news — an hour of moderate-intensity activity offsets the health risks of 8 hours of sitting.

That conclusion comes from a meta-analysis of trials involving more than 1 million individuals, reported online July 27 in The Lancet. It is one of a special series of papers on physical activity to coincide with the forthcoming Olympic Games.

This is the second time the journal has published such a series. The main message 4 years ago was that physical inactivity is a killer — leading to 5.3 million premature deaths annually worldwide, which is as many as caused by smoking and twice as many as associated with obesity. The finding prompted public health campaigns warning that “Sitting is the New Smoking” and that “Prolonged Sitting is Killing You.”

Dr Ulf Ekelund

The new message is that “it is possible to reduce — or even eliminate — these risks if we are active enough, even without taking up sports or going to the gym,” says lead author of the meta-analysis, Ulf Ekelund, PhD, from the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences in Oslo and Cambridge University, United Kingdom.

The study found that the health risks of sitting for 8 hours a day can be offset by 1 hour of moderate-intensity activity, which includes brisk walking (at 5.6 km/h) or cycling for pleasure (at 16 km/h). About a quarter of all individuals in the study reported this level of physical activity.

But even shorter periods of activity (about 25 to 25 minutes per day, which is the amount often recommended in public health guidelines) attenuated the mortality risks associated with prolonged sitting, the researchers found.

We cannot stress enough the importance of getting exerciseDr Ulf Ekelund

“For many people who commute to work and have office-based jobs, there is no way to escape sitting for prolonged periods of time,” Dr Ekelund said in a statement. “For those people in particular, we cannot stress enough the importance of getting exercise, whether it’s going for a walk at lunchtime, going for a run in the morning or cycling to work. An hour of physical activity is the ideal, but if this is unmanageable, then at least doing some exercise each day can reduce the risk,” he said.

“The world needs to get serious about physical activity,” the Lanceteditors write in anaccompanying editorial. The study by Ekelund and colleagues shows “how regular activity can diminish the increased mortality risk of prolonged sitting…[and] should help shift the current focus on reducing sitting times alone to more emphasis on regular activity,” they add.

Data From More Than a Million People

This is the first meta-analysis to use a harmonized approach to directly compare mortality between people with different levels of sitting time and physical activity, the researchers comment. They included 16 studies, with data on 1,005,791 individuals (aged >45 years) from the United States, Western Europe, and Australia.

The team confirmed the finding that prolonged sitting is associated with an increase in all-cause mortality. About 75% of these deaths were due to cardiovascular disease and cancer (breast, colon, and colorectal), Dr Ekelund commented.

As well as considering how long individuals sat each day, the researchers also divided the study participants into four equal-sized groups, depending on the amount of physical activity they reported. The least active group reported being active for less than 5 minutes per day, the next group was active for 25 to 35 min/day, the next group for 50 to 65 min/day, and the most active group for 60 to 75 min/day.

“Among the most active, there was no significant relation between the amount of sitting and mortality rates, suggesting that high physical activity eliminated the increased risk of prolonged sitting on mortality,” the researchers note.

But as the amount of physical activity decreased, the risk for premature death increased.

“A clear dose-response association was observed, with an almost curvilinear augmented risk for all-cause mortality with increased sitting time in combination with lower levels of activity,” the researchers comment.

These most active individuals were used as the referent group for the analysis (hazard ratio of 1).

At highest risk were individuals who reported the least amount of physical activity, even if they did not spend a long time sitting each day. For the group that was least active (less than 5 min/day) but also spent the least time sitting (less than 4 h/day), the hazard ratio for premature death was 1.27.

 This was significantly higher (P < .0001) than for individuals who were the most active (60 to 75 minutes of physical activity each day) but who also reported the longest periods of sitting (>8 h/day), who had a hazard ratio for premature death of 1.04.

This hazard ratio was not significantly different from the referent group, which led to the main conclusion that 1 hour of activity can offset 8 hours of sitting.

The researchers emphasized that the findings suggest that physical activity is particularly important, no matter how many hours a day are spent sitting.

 Speaking to reporters at a Lancet press briefing in London, Dr Ekelund said that the biological mechanisms behind these findings are unclear, but work in animal studies suggests that inactivity is linked to a decreased production of certain hormones.

He also emphasized the message about “moving more,” suggesting that people should walk as much as they can and that if they do need to sit for prolonged periods, they should break up those periods with short bursts of activity, such as walking for 5 minutes every hour.

Asked by Medscape Medical News if he practices what he preaches, Dr Ekelund, who is tall and lean, laughed and said yes, that he is in the high activity group. He is a keen cross-country skier and does about 5 to 7 hours of exercise each week.

One Hour of Activity Offsets Risks From 8 Hours of Sitting


We have all heard by now of the dangers of too much sitting, but for those of us with sedentary jobs, there is now good news — an hour of moderate-intensity activity offsets the health risks of 8 hours of sitting.

That conclusion comes from a meta-analysis of trial involving more than 1 million individuals, reported online July 27 in The Lancet. It is one of a special series of papers on physical activity to coincide with the forthcoming Olympic Games.

This is the second time the journal has published such a series. The main message 4 years ago was that physical inactivity is a killer — leading to 5.3 million premature deaths annually worldwide, which is as many as caused by smoking and twice as many as associated with obesity. The finding prompted public health campaigns warning that “Sitting is the New Smoking” and that “Prolonged Sitting is Killing You.”

The new message is that “it is possible to reduce — or even eliminate — these risks if we are active enough, even without taking up sports or going to the gym,” says lead author of the meta-analysis, Ulf Ekelund, PhD, from the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences in Oslo and Cambridge University, United Kingdom.

The study found that the health risks of sitting for 8 hours a day can be offset by 1 hour of moderate-intensity activity, which includes brisk walking (at 5.6 km/h) or cycling for pleasure (at 16 km/h). About a quarter of all individuals in the study reported this level of physical activity.

But even shorter periods of activity (about 25 to 25 minutes per day, which is the amount often recommended in public health guidelines) attenuated the mortality risks associated with prolonged sitting, the researchers found.

We cannot stress enough the importance of getting exercise

“For many people who commute to work and have office-based jobs, there is no way to escape sitting for prolonged periods of time,” Dr Ekelund said in a statement. “For those people in particular, we cannot stress enough the importance of getting exercise, whether it’s going for a walk at lunchtime, going for a run in the morning or cycling to work. An hour of physical activity is the ideal, but if this is unmanageable, then at least doing some exercise each day can reduce the risk,” he said.
“The world needs to get serious about physical activity,” the Lancet editors write in an accompanying editorial. The study by Ekelund and colleagues shows “how regular activity can diminish the increased mortality risk of prolonged sitting…[and] should help shift the current focus on reducing sitting times alone to more emphasis on regular activity,” they add.

This is the first meta-analysis to use a harmonized approach to directly compare mortality between people with different levels of sitting time and physical activity, the researchers comment. They included 16 studies, with data on 1,005,791 individuals (aged >45 years) from the United States, Western Europe, and Australia.

The team confirmed the finding that prolonged sitting is associated with an increase in all-cause mortality. About 75% of these deaths were due to cardiovascular disease and cancer (breast, colon, and colorectal), Dr Ekelund commented.

As well as considering how long individuals sat each day, the researchers also divided the study participants into four equal-sized groups, depending on the amount of physical activity they reported. The least active group reported being active for less than 5 minutes per day, the next group was active for 25 to 35 min/day, the next group for 50 to 65 min/day, and the most active group for 60 to 75 min/day.

“Among the most active, there was no significant relation between the amount of sitting and mortality rates, suggesting that high physical activity eliminated the increased risk of prolonged sitting on mortality,” the researchers note.

But as the amount of physical activity decreased, the risk for premature death increased.

“A clear dose-response association was observed, with an almost curvilinear augmented risk for all-cause mortality with increased sitting time in combination with lower levels of activity,” the researchers comment.

These most active individuals were used as the referent group for the analysis (hazard ratio of 1).

At highest risk were individuals who reported the least amount of physical activity, even if they did not spend a long time sitting each day. For the group that was least active (less than 5 min/day) but also spent the least time sitting (less than 4 h/day), the hazard ratio for premature death was 1.27.

This was significantly higher (P < .0001) than for individuals who were the most active (60 to 75 minutes of physical activity each day) but who also reported the longest periods of sitting (>8 h/day), who had a hazard ratio for premature death of 1.04.

This hazard ratio was not significantly different from the referent group, which led to the main conclusion that 1 hour of activity can offset 8 hours of sitting.

The researchers emphasized that the findings suggest that physical activity is particularly important, no matter how many hours a day are spent sitting.

Speaking to reporters at a Lancet press briefing in London, Dr Ekelund said that the biological mechanisms behind these findings are unclear, but work in animal studies suggests that inactivity is linked to a decreased production of certain hormones.

He also emphasized the message about “moving more,” suggesting that people should walk as much as they can and that if they do need to sit for prolonged periods, they should break up those periods with short bursts of activity, such as walking for 5 minutes every hour.

Why sitting is the new smoking.


With WHO having recognised physical inactivity as the 4th biggest killer on the planet, we need to get up and move about .

Read the detils: http://www.newsflicks.com/story/why-sitting-is-the-new-smoking#sthash.1O0Rc6tO.dpuf

Increase Your Life Expectancy by Sitting Less Than Three Hours a Day


Sitting Less

Story at-a-glance

  • Sitting for more than three hours a day causes 3.8 percent of all-cause deaths in the 54 countries surveyed
  • Cutting your sitting time to less than three hours a day could increase your life expectancy by 0.2 years
  • More than 60 percent of people globally spend more than three hours a day sitting.

ou may have heard talk that too much sitting is bad for your health, but these effects are not simply hearsay. Mounting research confirms that in order to stay optimally healthy, your body needs to spend the bulk of its time doing what it was designed to do: move.

Sit less and move more. It’s a simple strategy that can do wonders for your health. According to a recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, sitting for more than three hours a day causes 3.8 percent of all-cause deaths in the 54 countries surveyed.1

Further, cutting your sitting time to less than three hours a day could increase your life expectancy by 0.2 years, the researchers concluded. More than 60 percent of people globally spend more than three hours a day sitting.2 The researchers explained:3

Assuming that the effect of sitting time on all-cause mortality risk is independent of physical activity, reducing sitting time plays an important role in active lifestyle promotion, which is an important aspect of premature mortality prevention worldwide.”

Even Minor Reductions in Sitting Time May Benefit Your Health

If you currently sit for 10 or more hours a day, reducing your sitting time to three hours or less may sound overwhelming. However, you can start small.

The researchers found that reducing sitting time by 50 percent would result in a 2.3 percent decline in all-cause mortality (this was based on a mean sitting time of 4.7 hours a day).

Lead researcher Leandro Rezende, department of Preventive Medicine, University of Sao Paulo School of Medicine, told EurekAlert4

“It was observed that even modest reductions, such as a 10 percent reduction in the mean sitting time or a 30-minute absolute decrease of sitting time per day, could have an instant impact in all-cause mortality in the 54 evaluated countries …

… [W]hereas bolder changes (for instance, 50 percent decrease or two hours fewer) would represent at least three times fewer deaths versus the 10 percent or 30-minute reduction scenarios.”

Australia Adopts Sedentary Behavior Guidelines

If you exercise for 30 minutes then spend the majority of your non-exercise hours sitting, well, it’s the equivalent of popping a multivitamin and then eating French fries and ice cream for the rest of the day.

It’s simply not enough activity to counteract all that sitting (and most people don’t even exercise for 30 minutes daily).

Australia is the first country to adopt not only physical activity guidelines, but also sedentary behavior guidelines, which advise minimizing the amount of time spent in prolonged sitting, as well as breaking up long periods of sitting as often as possible.5

Other countries, like Colombia, are also being proactive about getting people up and moving; the country’s government computers actually pause automatically in order to force employees to take regular (hopefully active) breaks.6

The World Health Organization (WHO) also states physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for premature death worldwide.7 Aside from premature death, sitting is also linked with a number of chronic diseases.

One meta-analysis of 42 studies assessing sedentary behavior in adults found prolonged sedentary time (generally defined as sitting for eight hours or more each day) was associated with a number of health risks regardless of physical activity. This included:8

  • All-cause mortality
  • Cardiovascular disease mortality
  • Cancer mortality
  • Cancer incidence
  • Type 2 diabetes incidence

” … [A] compelling body of evidence [suggests] that the chronic, unbroken periods of muscular unloading associated with prolonged sedentary time may have deleterious biological consequences,” researchers further noted in the journal Exercise and Sports Sciences Review.

Once you recognize the health risks posed by excessive sitting, the next step becomes how to change this unhealthy behavior. The first step to changing your behavior is recognizing there’s a problem.

Toward this end, experts recommend monitoring your sitting time, because once you know how long you spend sitting you can take steps to reduce it. A study published in the journal Health Psychology Review looked into which behavior change strategies work best to reduce sedentary behavior.10

In this case sedentary behavior was defined as “low energy-expending waking behavior while seated or lying down” (this doesn’t include sleeping). The study reviewed 38 different interventions of which 23 were found to be effective in reducing sedentary behavior. The most effective techniques included those that targeted sitting time directly, such as:11

  • Access to a sit-stand desk at work
  • Tracking how long you’ve spent sitting
  • Setting goals to limit your sitting time
  • Using reminders to stop sitting
  • Educating people on the health benefits of less sitting

A Sit-Stand Desk Could Reduce Your Sitting Time by Eight Hours a Week

Research by Dr. James Levine and colleagues showed that the installation of sit-stand desks reduced sitting time during a 40-hour workweek by eight hours and reduced sedentary time by 3.2 hours.

Further, the participants enjoyed having the option of a sit-stand desk, which was also associated with increased sense of well-being and energy and decreased fatigue while having no impact on productivity.12 Better still, the more you stand up and move around, the more active you’ll tend to be and the more benefits you’ll experience. According to Levine:13

“The impact of movement — even leisurely movement — can be profound. For starters, you’ll burn more calories. This might lead to weight loss and increased energy.

Even better, the muscle activity needed for standing and other movement seems to trigger important processes related to the breakdown of fats and sugars within the body. When you sit, these processes stall — and your health risks increase. When you’re standing or actively moving, you kick the processes back into action.”

The Solution: Less Sitting and More Moving

The solution isn’t simply to swap sitting for standing, as staying too long in any one position can potentially lead to problems. For instance, too much standing can lead to back pain, varicose veins and even worsening of conditions like heart disease and arthritis. Ideally, strive for a balance between sitting, standing and moving. According to Dr. Levine:14

The solution seems to be less sitting and more moving overall. You might start by simply standing rather than sitting whenever you have the chance or think about ways to walk while you work. For example:

  • Stand while talking on the phone or eating lunch.
  • If you work at a desk for long periods of time, try a standing desk — or improvise with a high table or counter.
  • Walk laps with your colleagues rather than gathering in a conference room for meetings.”

Another simple way to achieve this is to monitor not only your sitting time but also the number of steps you take each day. There are more than 300 peer-reviewed research studies looking into the health effects of taking 10,000 daily steps.15 Among them are studies showing this simple intervention may lead to weight loss16 and lower blood pressure.17

According to the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS), the average person only walks between 3,000 and 4,000 steps per day.18 When you walk 10,000 steps a day, it helps you to get up out of your chair and moving. I personally walk about two hours a day or about 55 miles per week. I also keep my sitting to a minimum (about three hours a day) and do some form of “exercise” every day as well.

Balance Is Key

As mentioned, it’s balance that is important, and you want a mix of sitting (minimal), standing and moving (including both exercise and non-exercise activity) each day.

I recommend using a pedometer or one of the newer wearable fitness trackers, to find out how far you normally walk and adjusting your movement as necessary to get close to 10,000 steps daily. This is only a guide; if you’re elderly, you might aim for a bit less. If you’re young and fit, you might need more.

Also remember that simple changes throughout your day can quickly add up to less time spent sitting and more time moving. Walk while you’re talking on the phone, stand up while you watch television (or do a few jumping jacks or burpees during the commercials), park in the outskirts of the parking lot and take the stairs whenever you can. Walk to talk to your coworkers and neighbors (instead of emailing or calling)

Even small movements such as fidgeting may help. Among women who reported sitting for seven hours or more a day andhardly fidgeting, the risk of all-cause mortality increased by 30 percent. But women who reported fidgeting often fared far better — after sitting for five to six hours a day, their risk of mortality decreased.

5 Health Tips if You Sit at a Computer All Day


Excessive Sitting When Working

In recent centuries, advances in industry and technology have fundamentally changed the way many humans spend their waking hours. Where it was once commonplace to spend virtually all of those hours on your feet – walking, twisting, bending, and moving – it is now the norm to spend those hours sitting.

The modern-day office is built around sitting, such that you can conduct business – make phone calls, send e-mails and faxes, and even participate in video conferences – without ever leaving your chair.

But there’s an inherent problem with this lifestyle. Your body was designed for near perpetual movement. It thrives when given opportunity to move in its fully intended range of motion and, as we’re now increasingly seeing, struggleswhen forced to stay in one place for long periods.

What Happens When You Sit for Too Long?

Studies looking at life in natural agriculture environments show that people in agrarian villages sit for about three hours a day. The average American office worker can sit for 13 to 15 hours a day.

The difference between a “natural” amount of sitting and modern, inappropriate amounts of sitting is huge, and accounts for negative changes at the molecular level.

According to Dr. James Levine, co-director of the Mayo Clinic and the Arizona State University Obesity Initiative, there are at least 24 different chronic diseases and conditions associated with excessive sitting.

As he wrote in Scientific American:1

“Sitting for long periods is bad because the human body was not designed to be idle. I have worked in obesity research for several decades, and my laboratory has studied the effect of sedentary lifestyles at the molecular level all the way up to office design.

Lack of movement slows metabolism, reducing the amount of food that is converted to energy and thus promoting fat accumulation, obesity, and the litany of ills—heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and more—that come with being overweight. Sitting is bad for lean people, too.

For instance, sitting in your chair after a meal leads to high blood sugar spikes, whereas getting up after you eat can cut those spikes in half.”

Not surprisingly, sitting for extended periods of time increases your risk forpremature death. This is especially concerning given the fact that you may be vulnerable to these risks even if you are a fit athlete who exercises regularly.

It takes a toll on your mental health, too. Women who sit more than seven hours per day were found to have a 47 percent higher risk of depression than women who sit four hours or less.2

There’s really no question anymore that if you want to lower your risk of chronic disease, you’ve got to get up out of your chair. This is at least as important as regular exercise… and quite possibly even more so.

Practically Speaking: 5 Tips for Better Health if You Work at a Computer

You might be thinking this sounds good in theory… but how do you translate your seated computer job into a standing one? It’s easier than you might think. For starters, check out these essential tips for computer workers:3

1. Stand Up

If you’re lucky, your office may be one that has already implemented sit-stand workstations or even treadmill desks. Those who used such workstations easily replaced 25 percent of their sitting time with standing and boosted their well-being (while decreasing fatigue and appetite).4

But if you don’t have a specially designed desk, don’t let that stop you. Prop your computer up on a stack of books, a printer, or even an overturned trash can and get on your feet.

When I travel in hotels, I frequently use the mini fridge or simply turn the wastebasket upside down and put it on top of the desk, and it works just fine.

2. Get Moving

Why simply stand up when you can move too? The treadmill desk, which was invented by Dr. Levine, is ideal for this, but again it’s not the only option. You can walk while you’re on the phone, walk to communicate with others in your office (instead of e-mailing), and even conduct walking meetings.

3. Monitor Your Screen Height

Whether you’re sitting or standing, the top of your computer screen should be level with your eyes, so you’re only looking down about 10 degrees to view the screen. If it’s lower, you’ll move your head downward, which can lead to back and neck pain. If it’s higher, it can cause dry eye syndrome.

4. Imagine Your Head as a Bowling Ball

Your head must be properly aligned to avoid undue stress on your neck and spine. Avoid craning your head forward, holding it upright instead. And while you’re at it, practice chin retractions, or making a double chin, to help line up your head, neck, and spine.

5. Try the “Pomodoro Technique”

You know those little tomato-shaped (pomodoro is Italian for tomato) timers? Wind one up to 25 minutes (or set an online calculator). During this time, focus on your work intensely. When it goes off, take 5 minutes to walk, do jumping jacks, or otherwise take a break from your work. This helps you to stay productive while avoiding burnout.

What’s It Really Like to Work While Standing?

If you’re curious… just try it. Reactions tend to be mixed, at least initially, but if you stick with it you will be virtually guaranteed to experience benefits. The Guardian, for instance, recently featured an article with a first-hand account of working while standing, and the author wasn’t impressed.

He said “standing up to work felt like a horrible punishment” and lead to aches and decreased productivity.5 I couldn’t disagree more, but I will say that standing all day takes some adjustment. However, many people feel better almost immediately. As one worker who uses an adjustable-height work desk told TIME:6

“I definitely feel healthier standing while working as it causes me to be more focused on my posture and ‘hold’ myself better in terms of my stomach and shoulders especially.”

Personally, standing more has worked wonders for me. I used to recommend intermittent movement, or standing up about once every 15 minutes, as a way to counteract the ill effects of sitting. Now, I’ve found an even better strategy, which is simply not sitting. I used to sit for 12 to 14 hours a day. Now, I strive to sit for less than one hour a day.

After I made this change, the back pain that I have struggled with for decades (and tried many different methods to relieve without lasting success) has disappeared. In addition to not sitting, I typically walk about 15,000 steps a day, in addition to, not in place of, my regular exercise program. I believe this combination of exercise, non-exercise activities like walking 10,000 steps a day, along with avoiding sitting whenever possible is the key to being really fit and enjoying a pain-free and joyful life.

You’re Not a Prisoner to Your Chair

If you’re still sitting down while reading this… now’s your chance – stand up! As Dr. Levine said: “We live amid a sea of killer chairs: adjustable, swivel, recliner, wing, club, chaise longue, sofa, arm, four-legged, three-legged, wood, leather, plastic, car, plane, train, dining and bar. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you do not have to use them.”

Many progressive workplaces are helping employees to stand and move more during the day. For instance, some corporations encourage “walk-and-talk” meetings and e-mail-free work zones, and offer standing workstations and treadmill desks. But if yours isn’t among them, take matters into your own hands. You may be used to sitting down when you get to work, but try, for a day, standing up instead.

One day can turn into the next and the next, but please be patient and stick with it. Research shows that it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days to build a new habit and have it feel automatic.7 Once you get to this point, you’ll likely already be reaping the many rewards of not sitting, things like improved blood sugar and blood pressure levels, less body fat and a lower risk of chronic disease.