By John Salak –
It is kind of a given that sitting too much, being too sedentary, isn’t a recipe for health and vitality. In fact, simply Google “health problems and sitting” and 952 million hits will pop up on your screen in seconds. Okay, all these articles probably don’t make definitive statements on spending too much time on your butt and a lot of the information is probably redundant.
But The University of Texas MD Anderson Center Medical Center claims to have just produced the first objective study on sedentary behavior and cancer mortality. And it’s not good news for desk jockeys. The center found that the more sedentary a person is, the greater their chance of dying from cancer.
In fact, the university was able to report that in its study “the most sedentary individuals had an 82% higher risk of cancer mortality compared to the least sedentary individuals.”
“This is the first study that definitively shows a strong association between not moving and cancer death,” said Dr. Susan Gilchrist, an associate professor of Clinical Cancer Prevention and the study’s lead author. “Our findings show that the amount of time a person spends sitting prior to a cancer diagnosis is predictive of time to cancer death.”
That, of course, is the bad news. There is good news too. The center’s research also showed that by simply trading a small portion of sitting time with 30 minutes of physical activity like cycling could lower the risk of cancer death by 31 percent. Even less-intense activity, such as walking, could lower the cancer death risk by 8 percent.
The study generated its conclusions by examining the activity levels of more than 8,000 individuals over the age of 45 for at least a decade
“Our findings reinforce that it’s important to ‘sit less and move more’ and that incorporating 30 minutes of movement into your daily life can help reduce your risk of death from cancer,” Gilchrist said. “Our next step is to investigate how objectively measured sedentary behavior impacts site-specific cancer incidence and if gender and race play a role.”
While the University of Texas claims to have registered the first objective study on the detrimental impact of sitting too much, other authorities have been railing in general against our national embrace of inactivity for years.
Webmd.com, for example, found no less than 13 reasons why sitting too much is bad for your health. Among the dangers, Webmd.com cited that sitting too much was bad for your heart, could promote dementia, increase the chances of diabetes, may cause deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and is likely to lead to weight gain, bad backs and heightened anxiety.
It suggests making a stand (pun intended) by working movement into your day by standing and stretching every 30 minutes, touching your toes periodically, strolling around the office every now and then and perhaps trying to work standing up. There is even the option to get a desk that raises to a standing position or, for a less costly option, putting your computer on a box.
Ultimately, if your goal is to feel better and live longer, don’t take it sitting down. Get up and move.