The Richmond Register

March 3, 2013

Sitting can be hazardous to your health

By Dr. Jack Rutherford
Register Columnist

RICHMOND — Recent evidence suggests that extended periods of sitting can increase the risk of diabetes, obesity, cancer, and early death. This seems to be true even for people who exercise daily.

Many Americans now sit more than they sleep, an average of 10 hours a day at work, in the car, and at home in front of a television. Prolonged sitting appears to disrupt metabolic processes that break down fats and sugars in the blood.

The American Institute of Cancer Research recommends that people reduce their “sit” time by adding mini-breaks to their daily routines. Here are some ways to modify your daily routine to build in regular mini-breaks:

1. If you are in a repetitive task work environment that involves doing primarily the same thing at your desk all day long, set your alarm to go off every hour. Then take 5 minutes and get up and take a walk break around the office. Try to avoid the coffee and snack machine on your walk.

2. If you have a project-oriented job, take your break at the end of each phase of the project so that you return to your desk refreshed and ready to tackle the next phase.

3. Use your 15 minute coffee break times to get outside and walk. It’s a great mood enhancer.

4. At home, while sitting in front of the TV, get up at commercial breaks and move around the house. You’d be surprised at how many small household jobs can be completed in three-to-four minute commercial breaks.

5. While on your cell phone, walk around the house or office.

In addition to mini-breaks, the American Medical Association recommends that you get at least 30 minutes a day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. For best health benefits however, adults should increase aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes a week using a mix of moderate and vigorous exercise as well as strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups.