Active Couch Potatoes?!

September 21st, 2010 by Amy Gonsalves Leave a reply »

No news flash here: if you sit more, you are at a higher risk of heart disease.  In a study, the number of sitting hours was only 23 per week.  Week!  

“Men who spent more than 23 hours a week watching TV and sitting in their cars (as passengers or as drivers) had a 64 percent greater chance of dying from heart disease than those who sat for 11 hours a week or less.”

Ut oh.

But what if you sit all day, but go to the gym for an hour on your way home and hit the elliptical for 30 minutes? 


Not a lot of difference in your health. 

Regular workout sessions do not appear to fully undo the effects of prolonged sitting. ‘‘There seem to be different pathways’’ involved in the beneficial physiological effects of exercising and the deleterious impacts of sitting, says Tatiana Warren, a graduate student in exercise science at the University of South Carolina and the lead author of the study of men who sat too much. ‘‘One does not undo the other,’’ she says.”

Keeping in mind how progress may in fact lead us into regression:

“Decades ago, before the advent of computers, plasma TVs and Roombas, people spent more time completing ‘‘light-intensity activities,’’ which require between one and a half and three METs. Most ‘‘home activities,’’ like mopping, cooking and changing light bulbs, demand between two and three METs. (One exception is ‘‘butchering animals,’’ a six-MET activity, according to a bogglingly comprehensive compilation from 2000 of the METs associated with different activities.) Nowadays, few of us accumulate much light-intensity activity. We’ve replaced those hours with sitting.”

(Ut oh.  I’m guilty of this one.  Roomba has been a godsend in my house.  We are in a 2 bedroom duplex with wood floors and it’s absolutely insane how much dust we can make and how much fur two cats can create.)

However.  At the office, the printer is down the hall from my computer.  At home, I generally hop up at every commercial break or every few chapters in my book.  I go into the kitchen to see what food is there, or grab a cat to play with.  I park far away from the doors.  I walk to the grocery store. 

These are all ways to increase the exercise you get in your daily life—the kind of movement that our elders don’t even consider because it used to be part of the package.  So get up, get moving, get grooving, and keep at it

You and your heart will appreciate it.

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