Haims: Another cause of mortality? Sitting (column) | VailDaily.com

Haims: Another cause of mortality? Sitting (column)

Judson Haims
Special to the Daily

I'm sure everyone is titillated to learn that there is one more thing we do too much of that may just kill us. Adding to the list of harmful things we do is sitting.

It's official: Doctors, scientists and researchers from Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States have all weighed in and agreed with Dr. Marc Hamilton from The University of Houston: "Sitting is the new smoking."

Regardless of the level or frequency you exercise, the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer may be as much as 24 percent higher for those who have frequent and prolonged sedentary behavior, according to the American College of Physicians. Gym time and other vigorous activity don't significantly offset the risk.

While many of us living in the mountains of Colorado are more active than most, we are not insusceptible to sitting for long periods of time. Many of us now spend far less time driving and flying to conduct business than ever before. Further, many marketing, sales and information technology jobs have been created that cause employees to sit in front of a computer.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Researchers and medical professionals recommend that patients get up and walk around for a few minutes every half-hour during their waking hours.

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• Take a movement break every 30 minutes and walk briskly for 5 minutes.

• If you work at a desk for long periods of time, then try a standing desk or improvise with a high table or counter.

• Stand while talking on the phone or eating lunch.

• Position your work surface above a treadmill so that you can be in motion throughout the day.

• If you have a pedometer (Fitbit or other), then try to get 200 to 300 steps in every 30 to 60 minutes.

According to the World Health Organization, physical inactivity is now the fourth-leading risk factor for mortality, estimated to account for 6 percent of deaths, or 3.2 million deaths globally per year.

I read an article on CBC News where Dr. Mark Tremblay, director of Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, stated, "So if you're someone who gets up and goes for your 30-minute jog religiously each day and then sits at your computer, the impact that that's going to have on any particular health measure — mental health, physical health, bone density, blood pressure, whatever — may be different if you sit less."

Another article I read from the May Clinic referenced a study that compared people who spent fewer than two hours day in front of a screen to those who spent more than four hours. The conclusion was that those with greater screen time had:

• A nearly 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause.

• About a 125 percent increased risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease, such as chest pain (angina) or heart attack.

The research surrounding this issue is vast, and there is little doubt about the veracity — sitting is killing. It should be obvious that when you sit for long periods of time, your body goes into "storage mode." Getting fat may be the visual effect from being sedentary, but the effect not seen could kill you.

It's only Tuesday. You could start a small change today.

Judson Haims owns Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. Contact him at 970-328-5526 or visit http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns.