New studies suggest sedentary behaviors increase your risk of chronic disease.
There is new evidence that prolonged, unbroken sitting time is related to people's risk of obesity and type-2 diabetes.
One way to combat this is to get more walking in throughout your day.
Walking doesn't have to mean an hour-long jaunt. It can be as simple as just walking around the office for 5-10 minutes just to get your blood flowing.
Michele Stanten, a walking coach and ACE-certified fitness instructor, shares great advice on the best ways to keep moving to avoid that sedentary style.
RadioMD Presents:Train Your Body | Original Air Date: February 17, 2015
Host: Melanie Cole, MS
Guest: Michele Stanten
Melanie: Well, what are some of the dangers of really sitting? You know, we’ve even had Dr. Jordon Metzl on here before saying that “sitting is the new smoking”. So really? Is that true? What are some of the dangers of sitting and what can you do if you’re stuck at a desk all day? Stuck at a computer if you have to work? Is exercise before and after work enough to combat that sitting?
My guest today is Michele Stanten. She’s a walking coach, and an ACE-Certified Fitness Instructor. Welcome to the show, Michele.
So, sitting. Is it really the new smoking?
Michele: It really is. Too much sitting is associated with 34 chronic diseases and conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, back pain and depression. So, it’s really damaging our bodies and our minds.
Melanie: Okay. So, it’s associated with all these diseases, but people have to sit. Now, I’ve seen that some offices—I even saw a really cool one on Google Play newsstand or something that showed all these desks that were in various positions and angles so that you had to lean or stand or had your feet up on the thing. You know?
Melanie: Is that the answer or what do you do if you have to sit all day?
Michele: Well, it depends on your situation. We’re seeing a lot more products coming out so that people can be more mobile during the day. We’re seeing standing desks. Even standing is better than sitting. You know, moving is the best, if you can move around. We’re seeing treadmill desks so you can be on your treadmill while you’re on the computer and you don’t have to be walking at a fast clip, but just that you’re moving. Again, you don’t have to do it all day long. What we see is that these long stretches of sitting and if this is something that you’re doing every day, day after day, it starts to have a detrimental effect on our bodies all the way down at the cellular level. It starts to turn off things like how our bodies metabolize fats and things like that. In one study, they showed that people that sat for more than 10 hours a day were 31% more likely to die in the next five years compared to their peers who sat for less than 6 hours a day. So, what you really want to do is, you want to break up your sitting if you have to sit for long bouts. If you have the opportunity, those products can be helpful, but even taking little breaks. Getting up and standing up and walking around. Or, when you have to go to the bathroom, make it a little bit of a longer trip and go to the bathroom on the floor above you or below you and then you’re climbing the stairs. You’re up for a little bit. But, try to get up maybe for 5 minutes every hour, even if it’s every hour and a half or two hours, that’s better than sitting for those long stretches of time.
Melanie: If you’re someone that exercises before you go to work and then maybe even hit the gym or the treadmill when you get home at night, does that combat that sitting that you do all the rest of the day?
Michele: Well, it definitely helps and there are lots of benefits to that, so you don’t want to stop that, but even people who are working out and exercising on a regular basis, research is finding that that’s still not enough to combat those long stretches of sitting. So, you need to add some more movement. And, as I said, even standing up is better than sitting. So, for example, use things throughout your day as a cue. So, when the phone rings, stand up. I’m doing this interview standing. I had a conference call where I didn’t have to talk too much. I was mostly listening just before this one, so I hopped on my treadmill and I was just walking at 2 miles per hour instead of sitting at my computer while I did that call.
You know, when you’re out in the car, ban drive-throughs. Instead of driving through Starbucks and getting your cup of coffee or doing the bank drive-through, park your car. Get out of your car. Sometimes it’ll be quicker because the line at the drive-throughs can be much longer and you’re in and out quicker and you’re getting those extra steps. All those steps add up throughout the day. You know, for a lot of us, depending on where you live, it may be near a shopping center. A lot of people will park by one store, go into that store and then drive their car to the other end of the shopping center. I live out in the suburbs and I see that a lot. Instead of doing that, park your car kind of in the middle and walk to all the stores and don’t move your car. If you’re in the city and you use public transportation, get off of the bus or the train a stop early and walk part of the rest of the way to your destination.
So, add those little bouts of walking. Walking meetings are getting more popular. In the office, grab a colleague or two if you need to have a meeting, if you don’t have to take too many notes. You’re maybe just discussing or brainstorming something and go out and take a walk while you’re doing that.
One of the things I do with my kids, too, I see so many people—parents—who take their kids to sports practices or lessons and they sit there and they wait for them. Well, that’s a perfect opportunity. Head outside. Take a walk around the block. Even if you don’t walk the whole time, it’s an opportunity to get moving.
Melanie:I agree completely with that and when my kids do something like, you know, play soccer or whatever, I’ll watch for a little while because they want you to watch, but then I get up and go run around the field or go try and do some chin ups on the monkey bars or, you know, anything that you can really do to get yourself up and around.
Michele: Absolutely. Yes.
Melanie: And, what if you’ve got a boss that’s staring you down and you get up every hour and you say, “Well, I’ve been told I should get up every hour and do my stretches and walk around the office a little bit,” and your boss is like, “Yeah? Well, I’m expecting you to stay at that desk.”
Melanie: You know? Do you have some advice for those people to say, what?
Michele: Well, first of all, if you want to try and make a case, there’s tons of research out there on the dangers of sitting and there are organizations that are helping to promote this and, you know, the medical community is calling on companies and things like that and employers to encourage their employees to be more active because they’re going to be more productive employees. It can lower healthcare costs for the company, so there’s a lot of research out there if you want to make a case for your company to make some of these changes. I’ve seen them. I know people who’ve done this—who’ve gone to their companies--and now they’re getting standing desks and they’re seeing the benefits. So, there’s that option. There are also some devices such as steppers or little pedals that you can put under your desk. So, if you really have to be at that desk, you can step on the little stepper or the little bike wheel.
Melanie: Great idea.
Michele: It’s not a wheel but just the pedals. So, you can use those. Even doing things like sitting there and going up on your toe and alternating, moving. You know, so those muscles are moving when you can stand up at your place. But, you know, just getting some of that movement. Even moving around and changing positions in your chair. Research has shown that people who fidget burn more calories throughout a day, so you know, even kind of doing that—changing positions. Just trying to get some movement in there.
Melanie: Absolutely. That’s great information and great advice besides. Getting a little stepper; getting those little spinning things that you can spin or a little bicycle thing that you can put under your desk and kind of keep your feet moving and, if you have to be tied to your desk, it’s just really a great way.
Now, how much? We’re going to talk later on about upping your walking plan. But, if you were to recommend to people that are sitting most of the day, how much walking would you recommend or exercising do you want them to do for the rest of the time?
Michele: Well, the general recommendation to get health benefits from exercise is 30 minutes, 5 times a week, or 150 minutes of moderate intensity. So, that’s a good recommendation to start working toward. If you aren’t able to do that at the beginning, you know, I will encourage people, if it’s 10 minutes, get out there 10 minutes a day. And, I encourage people to do it every day because it helps to build a habit, but work up to, first of all, that 150 minutes a week and then you can take it up from there. But, if you’re getting that minimum, you’re getting those benefits that we’ve heard about in exercise and you’ll feel a lot better.
Melanie: So, we have about a minute or so left, Michele. So, wrap it up for us about why sitting is truly so dangerous and what you want people to really know about getting up, moving around and making their day more active than just sitting at a computer all day.
Michele: Absolutely. First and foremost, our bodies were not meant to sit. As we’re seeing, changes happen in our body that put us at more risk for things like heart disease and diabetes and a lot of the musculoskeletal diseases or problems and conditions. Back pain is one of the biggest issues and causes people to miss work and increase medical bills. Sitting is devastating to that and it can contribute to that back pain. So, you really want to get up. Find those little pockets within your day. Even if you can just get a 10 minute break in the morning and a 10 minute break in the afternoon, it’s better than nothing. Get up and move. When you’ve got your lunch hour, spend at least 10 minutes of it moving around. One of the things that can really help to motivate you are activity monitors—whether it’s a simple pedometer or more high tech ones like the Fitbit and the UP devices.
Melanie: And, they certainly can be so helpful. So, there’s your advice. Get up. Move around if you have to sit in front of a microphone all day like I do. I’m doing plie’ squats right now.
You’re listening to Train Your Body – Motivate and Perform, the American College of Sports Medicine on RadioMD. Stay well.