Tag Archives: sitting

To reverse damage of sitting, take a brisk, hour-long walk

If you spend all day sitting, then you might want to schedule some time for a brisk walk — just make sure you can spare at least an hour.

Scientists analyzing data from more than 1 million people found that it takes about 60 to 75 minutes of “moderate intensity” exercise to undo the damage of sitting for at least eight hours a day. Not exercising and sitting all day is as dangerous as being obese or smoking, they found.

And the added risk of parking yourself in front of a television for 5 hours or more a day after sitting at the office is so high even the hour of exercise is not enough to reverse the damage.

“We cannot stress enough the importance of getting exercise, whether it’s getting out for a walk at lunchtime, going for a run in the morning or cycling to work,” said Ulf Ekelund of the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences in Norway, one of the study’s authors, in a statement.

It has been long suspected that sitting a lot, at work or at home, is not healthy. Previous studies have found that prolonged sitting can raise the chances of heart disease, various cancers and an earlier death.

In the new research, experts combed through 13 papers with data on factors including how long people spend sitting, their physical activity levels and their television-watching habits. The majority of studies included people older than age 45. All except one were done in the U.S., Western Europe and Australia.

Researchers found that people with the highest levels of moderate physical activity — 60 to 75 minutes daily— erased the higher risk of death linked to being seated for more than eight hours a day. But even that exercise regime was not enough to counter the hazards of also watching more than five hours of television a day.

The study’s conclusions suggest that current guidelines from the World Health Organization — which recommend 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day — may not be enough to offset the dangers of sitting.

The paper was published online in the journal Lancet.

Lars Bo Andersen, who co-authored an accompanying commentary, called the new research “very convincing,” explaining that too much sitting increases the risk of problems including diabetes and heart disease because it can make insulin levels spike and might slow the body’s metabolism.

Andersen said watching lots of television was probably even worse than sitting at the office all day because it likely includes other unhealthy habits.

“A lot of people don’t just watch TV, they eat fatty snacks at the same time,” said Andersen, of Sogn and Fjordane University College in Norway.

Andersen said some cultures make it easier than others to squeeze in an hour of exercise every day, noting that in Denmark and much of Scandinavia, about half of all people either cycle or walk to work. But he said that getting the recommended amount of physical activity shouldn’t be overly arduous and doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym for an intense workout.

“If you are walking and can feel yourself getting a little warm and your breathing is a little heavier, that’s enough,” he said. “You don’t have to be sweaty and out of breath to get the benefits.”


The desk that tells you to stand up

Sitting down all day is bad for you, or so doctors say. There’s been a burst of interest in standing desks, but they’re not that easy to use, and it’s hard to motivate sitters to stand.

Stir, a company founded by a former Apple engineer, says it has the answer: a table that will nudge you to stand, with a gentle, one-inch rise and fall of its surface. If you take the suggestion, the table rises to standing height.

The table is controlled from a color touch screen. It looks as though someone has hammered an iPhone into the table’s surface. To change between sitting and standing positions, you tap it twice. You can program it to make you stand, say, 35 percent of the time. A hidden heat sensor helps the desk determine whether you’re there.

The screen also controls the table’s Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections. They don’t do much right now, but the plan is for the table to connect to your smartphone to track your sitting and standing periods.

One day, it’ll also connect fitness bands such as the Fitbit to help the table figure out when you should be sitting and standing. For instance, the FitBit could tell the desk that you’ve had a tough workout already that morning and let you sit a bit more than usual, Stir CEO JP Labrosse says.

Now, all we need is a TV couch that reminds people to stand.

OTHER GOODIES: The desk contains power and USB connections in recessed, lidded boxes, so you can charge your phone straight from the desk, then hide the cable under a lid.

AVAILABILITY: You can order the Stir Kinetic desk now for $3,890. That’s about three times the price of simple motorized adjustable-height desk. The company expects to start shipping the tables in February.

THE PEDIGREE: Labrosse was one of the engineers behind the first iPod. He then co-founded a company that made a system that moved solar cells to track the sun. His former boss at Apple, Tony Fadell, went on to create another surprising “smart” product: the Nest connected thermostat.

American Medical Association opposes lifetime ban on gay men donating blood

The American Medical Association adopted a policy this week opposing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s lifetime ban on blood donations from men who have had sex with men.

The AMA policy also expresses support for the use of rational, scientifically based deferral periods that are fairly and consistently applied to blood donors.

“The lifetime ban on blood donation for men who have sex with men is discriminatory and not based on sound science,” said AMA board member Dr. William Kobler in a news release. “This new policy urges a federal policy change to ensure blood donation bans or deferrals are applied to donors according to their individual level of risk and are not based on sexual orientation alone.”

The AMA also adopted a new policy regarding HIV prevention.

Recent studies have confirmed that effective antiretroviral therapy can reduce HIV transmission by up to 96 percent. Previously, antiretroviral therapy for infected persons was delayed for years until CD4 cell counts dropped significantly and transmission occurred.

Although new NIH guidelines recommend immediate antiviral treatment, these guideline changes have not been widely publicized to physicians.

New policy adopted by the AMA supports programs to raise physician awareness of early treatment and “treatment as prevention” and the need to link newly positive persons to clinical care and partner services.

Other policies

The AMA also:

• Adopted a policy strongly opposing discrimination based on an individual’s genetic information. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act was intended to protect individuals from genetic discrimination by health insurers and employers, but GINA did not address a number of areas in which genetic discrimination may still occur, and some people are not protected by GINA’s provisions. The newly adopted policy supports legislation that would provide robust and comprehensive protections against genetic discrimination and misuse of genetic information.

• Adopted a policy that encourages companies, laboratories, researchers and providers to publicly share data on genetic variants and the clinical significance of those variants through a system that assures patient and provider privacy.

• Adopted new policy recommending that traditional compounding pharmacies be subject to state board of pharmacy oversight. The AMA also supports FDA oversight and regulation of facilities that compound sterile drug products without receiving a prescription order prior to compounding and introducing these drugs into interstate commerce.

• Adopted a policy that recognizes obesity as a disease requiring a range of medical interventions to advance obesity treatment and prevention.

“Recognizing obesity as a disease will help change the way the medical community tackles this complex issue that affects approximately one in three Americans,” said AMA board member Patrice Harris. “The AMA is committed to improving health outcomes and is working to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, which are often linked to obesity.”

• Adopted a policy supporting a ban of the marketing of high stimulant/caffeine drinks to adolescents under the age of 18.

“Energy drinks contain massive and excessive amounts of caffeine that may lead to a host of health problems in young people, including heart problems, and banning companies from marketing these products to adolescents is a common sense action that we can take to protect the health of American kids,” said AMA board member Alexander Ding.

• Adopted a policy recognizing potential risks of prolonged sitting and encouraging employers, employees and others to make available alternatives to sitting, such as standing workstations and isometric balls.

• Adopted a policy that supports the exemption of sunscreen from over-the-counter medication possession bans in schools and encourages all schools to allow students to possess sunscreen at school without restriction.

Sit on this advice

New research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine and other journals shows that sitting for long stretches can be detrimental to your health, contributing to obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and chronic kidney disease.

“The best defense – the only defense – is to move more,” says Dr. Keith Overland, president of the American Chiropractic Association.

But when you’re not in motion – when you’re sitting or standing – doing it correctly can make a big difference in your health.

Sit correctly

“When you do sit, make sure to do it correctly so you don’t ruin your posture or strain your muscles, leading to pain that could inhibit you from getting the activity you need,” suggests Overland.

To prevent problems, keep your feet on the floor or a footrest and don’t cross your legs. Your knees should be at or below the level of your hips. Adjust the backrest of your chair to support your low- and mid-back or use a back support, and avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time.

Sitting with a wallet in your back pocket is particularly damaging, according to experts. The pressure from the wallet on your spine can aggravate your sciatic nerve, causing numbness and lower back pain. For that reason, chiropractors recommend carrying wallets in your front pocket.

Include frequent micro-breaks into your sitting time, stretching your neck, arms, wrists, back, and legs. Simple stretches include neck rotations, fist clenches, arm dangles and shoulder shrugs.

Most of all, don’t sit for too long. Stand up and stretch your legs with a short walk about every 20 to 30 minutes. Avoid working through lunch.

Maintain good posture

Poor posture not only consumes more energy but also can lead to excessive strain on your postural muscles and may even cause them to weaken when held in certain positions for long periods of time. The postural muscles are prone to injury and back pain, but maintaining good posture, sitting properly and moving regularly can help you stay pain-free.

You can learn more healthy tips at www.chirohealthy.com.

While you may not be able to quit your desk job, you can prevail over inactivity and move yourself closer to better health.