Is Sitting the New Smoking?

Wow, who knew? I’ve never thought of myself as a couch potato because I don’t spend much time on my couch and I manage to exercise several days a week. But I do spend most of my work day (editing a magazine I love) sitting on my butt.

I just read the new book The Exercise Cure, by Jordan D. Metzl, M.D., a sports medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City (who also helped fix daughter’s knee problems years ago). He makes a great case for the fact that exercise is medicine—the safest, least expensive way to prevent and treat many health problems.

However, I was dismayed to learn that even going to the gym regularly won’t eliminate the hazards of being sedentary much of the time. Research by James Levine, M.D., Ph.D., at the Mayo Clinic has found that sitting for more than 6 hours a day increases your blood pressure along with your risk of diabetes, obesity, depression and some types of cancer. He believes that sitting is the new smoking. In fact, other research has shown that sitting for 11 hours a day (regardless of your other activity and health factors) increases your risk of dying from any cause by 40 percent. On average, Americans sit for 9.5 hours each day.

Dr. Metzl recommends that for every 20 minutes of sitting, we should spend 2 minutes standing, walking, or stretching. The solution, he says, is to become a “NEAT freak,” as in nonexercise activity thermogenesis, or just getting up and moving around as often as possible. Simply stand and stretch for a minute.

For example, look for ways to walk and talk at the same. If you need to meet with someone (for business or pleasure), chat as you walk around the block. Whenever you’re on your cell phone, walk around, or at least stand up. I am standing up while I’m typing right now! One member of our editorial team ditched her desk chair and stands all the time. Just last week, I noticed that another editor was wearing a pedometer, and she told me she was trying to remember to walk more. Hey, here’s another reason to drink more water: I’ll have to get up to walk to the bathroom more often!

The Exercise Cure also has easy-to-follow daily exercise plans for people who are beginners, intermediate or advanced. By the way, I love this motivating article about a new mom met her fitness goal.

So you’ll have a little more time to exercise, try one of these slow-cooker recipes for dinner tonight.

And if you want to drop a hint that you’d like a jogging stroller for Christmas, check these out.

Exercise With Baby: Thighs, Butt and Calves
Exercise With Baby: Thighs, Butt and Calves
Exercise With Baby: Thighs, Butt and Calves

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