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I recently heard a new phrase, "Sitting is the new smoking." Where did this phrase come from, and what does it mean? Should your couch now be listed on a health risk assessment?
Based on some new research, it sounds like the amount of time spent on the couch or in a chair may indeed increase your risk of developing heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer and even early death.
Marc Hamilton, a leading researcher on inactivity physiology, suggests that sitting is "the new smoking." James Levine, a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist and researcher, says obese people sit on average two-and-a-half hours more every day than thinner people.
When you sit for long periods of time, your body goes into "storage mode" and can even make your bottom bigger. This all dates back to our ancient Neanderthal ancestors who were hunter-gatherers and constantly on the move. We move 90 percent less than our ancestors did 100 years ago. Sitting in front of the TV isn't the only health concern. Any prolonged sitting, such as behind a desk or behind the wheel, can be harmful.
The solution is less sitting and more overall activity. Some suggestions for while you're working include using a standing desk or one designed to be used with a treadmill and holding walking meetings with colleagues. Other, less intrusive options could include taking frequent standing breaks, stretching or walking for a bit every 90 minutes, standing while talking on the phone and taking the stairs.
The bottom line is: keep moving. Your thoughts?
Sara J. Carlson, R.N., C.D.E.
Peggy Moreland, R.N., C.D.E.
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I have suffered and am the survivor of two very terrible auto accidents. I deal with the injuries daily for the past 30 years. I sit more than any person could know. I was in a chair (still have it for use in the home, but to embarrassed to use it outside of the home), I am 49 years of age, I know if I make it another 5 years it will be by pure luck. It is not the direct injuries from the accidents that cause the issue I refer to, it is my sit and do nothing lifestyle due to the pain of mobility that causes this issue.
I absolutely know that sitting is bad for me, but not a lot I can do about it. In the summer months I spend 5-12 hours daily in a pool, the buoyancy makes it easier and less painful for me to move myself. My beautiful bride of 23 years has fully given up her life to care for me, so in cases like mine, sitting is not only the new smoking, but it is also a family killer.
I agree, not only is sitting the new smoking, insurance companies will not get involved to assist people like myself and "insured" for those accidents work on a better life quality. To be honest, if it were not for my beautiful bride of 23 years, I would have taken that bb a long time ago.
what if you can't walk more than 10 ft. and your leg and back muscles give out because i was prescribed lipitor which also probably is the cause of my type2 diabetes and my cholesterol never was high but doctors were handing out statins supposedly to protect against heart disease.
So true...I hv been leading a sedentary lifestyle..and my abs are now..errr..absent from view...obstructed by a layer of lard which had decided to.make the general area of my stomach its permanent home.Now its called Visceral Fat Boulevard..get off that couch!!!..me..?...i am a prisoner with no escape route...
Moving and even just a little diet change can work wonders. When first diagnosed my A1C was 10+. I was started on the usual Metformin - in my case the ER version. I also just simply removed carbs from my diet and kept to lean meats which I love anyway. My next A1C came back as 6. My doctor could not believe it. He said no one drops 4 points on Metformin alone. Well I confessed I did make some simple changes and would continue to do so challenging myself to be able to drop the med altogether. Do it! I do not claim everyone can have the same results but you will see a positive change.
Hi Exercised until back pain (arthritic) no longer allowed me to stand much less move for more than a few minutes. Suggestions?
Studies prove sitting kills!!!
I agree with this article....anyone with diabetes should lose weight, watch what they eat (sugar and carbs are out) and increase their exercise by at least 50%....without those major life style changes one is prone to diseases much more devastating than disbetes
Thank you for the information. Wish I had it about 15 years ago. Might have kept me moving more instead of sitting at my desk 8-12 hours a day! Plan to incorporate more short walks throughout my day.
Hi ms Moreland. Thank you for sharing such valuable information. We desperately need it. I am 50 and sitting behind a computer for the last 25 yrs. I discovered some high blood pressure lately. Camn it be of sitting too much? Is a gym one of the solutions to the problem? Thank you. From South Africa.
I have a knee problem and use a cane along with spinal stenosis which makes even standing for more than 5 minutes very painful. I can take short walks (15 minutes, at most)but that is the limit.
Thank You Ms. Moreland for all your wonderful diabetic information dissemination! It helps me stay better motivated to keep plugging away daily with my Type 1 diabetes self-care. As I have learned over my lifetime, diabetic self-management is vitally important in order to feel well. I became diabetic when I was 5 y.o. and now am approaching 59 y.o. With the advent of computers the information available for diabetics is so easily obtained. I personally find walking "laps" in my local shopping mall is something I can do that is not too boring. I try to outdo my walking times per lap each day. It's sort of fun (as you can tell I am not a fan of sweaty exersizing) and I am able to discipline myself to do it. Thanks again for everything you do for diabetics!
Hello Nancy et al.
What is it about sitting that is harmful. I have a large (2' diameter) ball that I sit on, requiring me to balance as I sit. I alao have a chair consisting of an inflatable ball. Do either of these counter some of the problems of sitting?
As an editor, I sit at a computer to much. creating a standing set-up is possible but will call for major reorganization of my home office.
Typical, we blame everybody else for our ill. We forget at a later age all the jogging, running (most in wrong surface) a lot of biking (good for muscle but not for knee or back) then we reach an age and start blaming everybody and everything. Why should an employer do for a few what we can't do for ourselves? We park in the closest parking space. We use drive-through (I think they should be illegal for the pollution they cause, I have observed lines that a car had to wait for up-to 5 min. + !) Where o we "land" once we go home? on the sofa! Unless we change we can't ask anybody's help. But then again, if we don/t complain how can they "study" us?!
Think of the unemployment in the research, pharma, medical industry if we we stop complaining. Scary thought.
God made us in His image. We are not the result of the primordial soup. Evolution is a theory and very misguided .
Is it in the bed with my computer for hours, I can't seem to get up, is like an addiction. Since I have anemia I feel weak and tired. But seating has made me feel worse and I also have low thyroid problem and 2 heart stents.
Do you know a program I can join to change my life style of living. I am 67 years old.
Please help me.
Agree about the keeping on the move.However then the old foot ankle and lower legs swelling issue arises.
My experience is puzzling. Having completed three power walking marathons and eight half marathons over a six year period, I had my first heart attack, a silent one discovered when I had an ekg as part of a screening process for participation in a study of Type 1 diabetics.
100 years ago people had no choice but to walk. They don't have the luxury that we have now. They were a little more fit and most of them died at an early age of 50.
I've had Type 1 for 60 years. When I stopped smoking 23 years go I began to gain weight. I got a dog and walked with her 2-4 miles a day which helped control the weight. I could do a better job of eating but do OK. My wife is a big help. My A1-C's run 6-2 to 6.7. I was diagnosed with Spinal Neuropathy about 4 years ago and no longer walk. I am now obese at 240lbs and do not know how to get rid of the extra weight. Most of it is through the mid-section.
Yes, I think that standing while walking up the stairs is an excellent suggestion .
Sad to compare sitting to smoking as in minimizing what smoking does! Smoking, when used as directed, kills!
That is a great bit of info, however, there are a lot of older folks who can't or are unable to walk or stand for longer than a few minutes. Sitting at the computer and watching TV are great ways to pass time when there's nothing else to do!
I, myself, take a yoga class once a week which keeps me in fair shape. I walk with a walker and have lots of trouble standing for any period of time.
Walking meetings with colleagues sounds like a return to the elitist golf meeting days. It would be hard to be inclusive with a walking meeting. Building a workplace with a health-focused culture is a worthy goal, but it can easily slip into a competitive environment where the most fit are the most successful.
Just saying a desk where you stand or one that is like a treadmill is not going to be found in many offices. To make an area standing room costs a lot of money and is not approved where most people work without a very good reason.
Mantra is movement for all round good heath,
Hardev S Coonar
Ok. I'm in a wheelchair. Does that mean I'm at more risk for all this other stuff on top of that? These studies make me crazy!
Once the research came out, many in our office tried to start a "movement" to get stand/sit stands on our desk (JustStand.org). Once management found out it was about $500 a pop, I was the only one who qualified since I already have diabetes, sciatic nerve pain, knee pain, etc. I also needed a doctors note. I've been sitting 34 years behind a desk. Sad that all my younger co-workers will one day be in the same boat with this old thinking by selfish management. The money is there, they just don't spend it on staff. There are two people who have had blood clots recently --I encourage them to go get a doctors note, but they are intimidated by management. Sad.
It doesn't matter how much you read about diabetes and the toll it takes on your body. You won't be ready to make a change until you have hit rock bottom. Initially , when first diagnosed you go on a diet and loose some weight, but then the unresolved issues come back and take over. Old habits are allowed back in your life and before you know it , you are a walking time bomb.
The real issue here, is self love. How much are you willing to go for the only person that you can rely on? How worthy are you in your own eyes?
Unfortunately , as much as we want to answer this question in a positive way , the real issue reamains that: how much are you worth in your own eyes?
Before you commit to any new diet or excercise program , you have to determine how much you are worth to yourself . Only then , will you be ready for that "diet " or new medication and the knowledge that your heath is in your own hands...if you let it happen...
I was a legal secretary for 35 years; all I did was sit. It couldn't be helped. Now you say that sitting is (or could be) the reason I'm obese, or have diabetes, and could lead to other serious health concerns. What can you do? People have got to work, and most working requires sitting for long periods of time. If this study is true, then a majority of working America is in danger of coming down with these conditions. I just don't believe it!
Thanks a lot guys... learn so much from u
So right. Not to mention the risk of blood clots. I've been setting a timer on my desk. Every 60 minutes. Time to walk around. Good for the brain too.
I think that is a good idea, but I also have diabetic neuropathy in both feet, and pain in my left knee from a total knee replacement surgery, and now there's arthritis in that knee so it is very difficult for me to walk for very far or for very long. I would like some suggestions for this too. Thank you
I try to keep one foot off the floor. it keeps leg muscels active and should be less bad than just sitting.
Dear Nacey, thank you so much for all the pratical you and your reading public are offering. I have to agree absolutly in my case, sitting for long periods is a big factor in my life. i am going to use the sugestions offered to try and do better. Many thanks to all.
Neanderthals were not our ancestors.
What a great article. I never thought of the time I spend sitting as particularly unhealthy till now. The treadmill and standing desk ideas are things easily implemented. Any other ideas from commenters?
Move and especially after a meal!!! Eat whole,real food. Exercise at '"Curves" three times a week. Eat main meal in middle of day. Eat a healthy light supper. I am 77, and with medications,vitamins and insulin have keep my numbers in order for several years. This works for me!!!! Also sing in two choirs!!!!
I fully agree with this article as I believe my diabetis came from sitting at the computer for hours at a time without taking a break. furthermore, the lack of activity also caused other problems below my knees,
Losing weight can be more difficult on insulin but can be done. I would suggest seeing a dietitian that can figure out your total daily calories needed to lose weight. Also see a CDE that can show you how to adjust your insulin so you are not over insulinizing and can adjust the insulin dose down as you lose weight.
I am 68 yrs old and have had T2 since age 51 (17 years). I have done vigerous exercise for most of those years, ie. running, weight lifting, and sprints. I squeezed in 45 minutes at lunch time each day. Unfortunately I sat at a stressful job the rest of the day and sat for an additional 2 hour commute. My diet was well managed during this period.
My diabetes progressed from Metformin only to 3 types of oral medicines and finally in January 2012 to insulin (Novolog 70/30). I retired in Nov 2010 and am now less stressed and more active, but it is too late! The years of sitting & stress have taken their toll. I have gained 25 pounds since starting the insulin and have trouble taking off more than 5 or 6 pounds. My doctor told me and the manufacturer states that the mixed inulin can cause you to gain weight as it takes the glucose out of the blood and stores it in fat cells.
Do you have any suggestions? Thanks. Bob
T2, age 72 with very painful osteoarthritis in both knees.Use a cane. Overweight, I am close to my goal of losing 10% of my weight. But required movement - chores, grocery shopping, cultural life, is about all the movement I can just barely handle. So would additional daily pain give me ?
After a move in 2007 I was diagnosed with T2 at the age of 59. I tried to see why it showed up then, also my weight gain. I worked at home. After trying all the things recommend more exercise at the gym nothing seem to bring my weight down. Due to some financial difficulties in 08, I started to get free WiFi at the coffee shop. I have many coffee shoppes close by but I chose to walk to one that gives me a two mile walk there and back. In my weight in I lost 25 lbs from 200 down to 175. I have managed to keep it off with this as my almost daily routine. This walk daily and sometimes more walk has helped immensely. I also use some other techniques to make the walk both more interesting and add to my cognitive development. Do take a small digital camera along on every walk. I am lucky I live in a moderate climate like Vancouver, BC
So what does a diabetic who cannot exercise do? Those with disabilities, in wheelchairs etc. what do we do, a fat backside is the least of our problems!Da un8a
I knew a new aspect to day that sitting is new smoking. I liked the dictum very much.I am not a sitter. I walk mostly in the morning for more than one hour and walk frequently in the daytime and evening.But whatever may be ,the news is interesting and beneficialtoo.
I'm 55 and a child of the 60's. I walked daily to and from school,(1/2 mile)One way it was uphill. Walked all through college --never had a car until after graduating from college. Not that many obese young people in the 70's. Used a bicycle or walked, or hitched a ride with friends or family. Basically a sedentary person until my late twenties when I began walking and jogging. Got into top shape. Then had a child at 32. Never took time to resume my daily exercise, but devoted myself to mothering. Never took off the baby weight. Diagnosed last year with type II diabetes. Changed eating habits, still working on activity level to increase it. Thanks for the reminder. But just by improving diet, my A1C has gone from 6.7 to 5.7 to 5.4. I'm very pleased, but not resting on my laurels. Sadly, our children's generation is the one that is the MOST inactive. They are chauffuered everywhere and get vehicles in their teens. We protect them from the crazies by not allowing them to travel much on foot. They really need to exercise. They are the computer and texting generation and sit more than any of we older folk have done. Let's keep them warned about the consequences if they do not step up their level of activity. They look upon diabetes and obesity as an 'old peoples' disease. Thanks.
I've also seen studies that say sitting is still really bad even if you exercise every day. Very disheartening as I already have T2' go to the gym 3x/week, exercise in the pool, walk the other days. I blamed high stress of my job for getting heavier and T2 but maybe it was just sitting at my desk forever...
Absolutely! This is something I recall Oprah advised her audience years ago. She said, "Move, America!" I'm afraid we have become a bit lazy, looking for all kinds of conveniences to get us through our day. For example, I see large crowds of people waiting for an elevator, when the stairs are a few feet away! I try to do some kind of activity each and every day even it's for as little as 20 minutes. I'm sure 30 or more minutes would be better, but at least I've developed the mindset that some activity is a MUST just like breathing, and it's non-negotiable now.
Iam a type II diabetic who could not get my alc numbers down and other markers. However I went on a modified Paleo diet plan which includes moving as much as possible. I went from a 7.4 alc to 5.8 alc and this to me is amazing... no one told me about this program and it has been around forever. Keep moving at least a few minute's every hour to build up the strength to say up longer... smile.
I really like your E-mails. You talk about things I never think of. Like how much I sit. I am moving soon and I hope to have a place better suited to walking and biking. Where I live, in the bottom of a canyon, has no room on the roadsides for safe walking.
Thanks for checking Nancy!
Sorry Ryan, it was a comment in an article I read and I can't find the reference. Probably not statistically significant but it makes a good point. 100 years ago exercise was part of daily living. An article from NPR states, "Researchers say 100 years ago, people got five times more exercise every day, just in the course of daily living." Thanks for keeping me on my toes. Nancy
I'm curious where you got the figure that we move 90% less than people did 100 years ago.
Please let me know when you have a chance.
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