Submitted by Carol Tomlinson, RN BS
Community Health Educator
Stand Up For Health!
The studies just keep coming. Sitting for long periods may be very bad for your health and even your life expectancy. Sitting too much may cause health problems even if you exercise regularly.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have found that the longer you sit, the higher your risk of developing such health issues as:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease (increases nearly 125%)
- Type 2 diabetes
- Weight gain
- Stress intolerance
Many of us sit about 8 hours a day in a vehicle, before the TV, doing crafts or puzzles, or other sedentary activities. Sitting for long periods is known to cause large muscles to burn less fat, blood sugars and triglycerides to rise, and blood to flow more sluggishly.
Experts say that sitting can cause health problems even if you exercise regularly. So while a 30 minute swim or fast walk may be great for you, it may not undue 8 hours of sitting. If you do exercise for 30 minutes, remember your health is also affected by those other 23 ½ hours.
So what can you do if you already have a health problem that limits your mobility? First, check with your doctor about what movements are best for you. He or she may even recommend a physical therapist to introduce you to safe exercises.
But don’t stop there! You need to follow through and make a commitment to moving gently for a minute, or preferably two, each hour you are awake.
- Don’t sit if you can stand. And,
- Don’t stand if you can move.
When you must sit for long periods, break it up with small active movements such as tapping your toes, seated heel or toe raises. Do lower leg raises or tighten muscles in your back, lower abdomen and/or buttocks.
Other tips for being more active include:
- Stand or move around while on the phone.
- While watching TV, remind yourself to stretch, tighten and release your muscles or get up and walk around for the length of a commercial and or at the end of the show.
- Invite friends for a walk instead of a meal.
- Do ankle circles or shoulder roles while stopped at red lights.
- Park further away from the store you want to visit.
- Suggest breaks in long meetings or activities such as playing cards with friends, and especially while riding in a vehicle. Get up and stretch or walk around and encourage others to do the same.
The impact of movement, even leisurely movement, can be profound for your health. The old adage, “move it or lose it,” is a valuable tool for a healthy life!
For more information, visit mayoclinic.org, contact your healthcare provider or HealthLink Littauer at 736-1120. You can e-mail us at email@example.com, see our website at nlh.org, or visit our NEW wellness center at 2 Colonial Court in downtown Johnstown, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. We’re your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.