Doctors and other health care providers have been making recommendations to exercise regularly for years. The current recommendation is at least 30minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week. However, recent research shows that your level of activity during the remaining 23 ½ hours may also be important. Even if you are meeting this recommendation for exercise daily, you may still have a sedentary lifestyle due to other factors in your day such as your work environment, leisure activities or commute.
The Sedentary Behavior Research Network describes a sedentary lifestyle as spending the majority of wakeful time lying or sitting while expending little energy, which is common in most office settings. This is also becoming more common for children and adolescents with increased availability and use of televisions, computers and video game systems. A sedentary lifestyle differs from an inactive lifestyle in which a person is not meeting the recommendations for 30min of daily physical activity. This means that you can be inactive, sedentary or a combination of both depending on the amount of general movement and exercise you get each day.
Researchers warn of the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle. According to the research, spending the day reclined or seated increases your risk of colon cancer, diabetes, hypertension, elevated cholesterol and mood disorders. According to a 2011 study in the European Heart Journal, taking frequent breaks from sitting can lead to a smaller waist circumference and lower levels of C-reactive proteins. Most of us agree that a smaller waist would be great. More importantly however, an increased waist circumference and elevated C-reactive protein levels are associated with increased risk of many common cancers. For this reason, the Surgeon General recommends that people accumulate activity throughout the day as well as getting 30min of moderate exercise per day. Activity in this context is simply a break from “resting” activities such as sitting at your desk or reclining on the couch. The breaks can be as short as 1 minute and as easy as standing up and stretching.
The key is to get up often. If you can, take a short walk around and get some fresh air. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
Our body functions better, stays stronger and is happier with regular physical activity. You may even notice fewer aches and pains with increased activity. So, don’t just sit there, MOVE IT!