I thought I gave up smoking years ago when, in addition to the obvious health risks, if you continued to smoke, you were a pariah, a social outcast. It turns out I may have started smoking again and didn’t even know it.
Both CBS News and the Journal of Physical Activity and Health have recently likened sitting to be the new smoking. The Journal study found that for those 60 and older, every additional hour a day spent sitting or being sedentary has been linked to a doubling of the risk disability, regardless of the amount of moderate exercise a person gets. The description of disability in this study included limitations on everyday tasks like dressing, eating, bathing and walking across a room.
Looks like in spite of moderate regular exercise like walking daily, if you sit a lot you are at higher risk for obesity, diabetes and, no surprise, heart disease. It makes sense that if you sit at a computer or in front of the TV, circulation slows and fewer muscles get used, both of which contribute to overall poor health.
I know for myself, as a retiree and a writer, I spend lots of time just sitting. I do exercise regularly but now I’m hearing that that’s not enough to counteract the ill effects of smoking … I mean sitting.
What to do?
There’s lots you can do, and it’s relatively easy. If you don’t exercise regularly (at least moderate walking 3-5 times a week), begin there. Aim for 30 minutes three times a week, even if it’s in 10-minute segments three times a day. If you do exercise but are also sitting a lot too, be sure to get up and move around every 15-20 minutes. If it’s in front of the TV, get up during commercials and if it’s at the computer, like it is for me, stretch for 30 seconds at regular intervals.
Most people my age have smoked at some point during their lives. And it wasn’t easy for us to finally kick the nasty habit. Don’t let sitting get you down or keep you down. Don’t let it impair the quality of your leisure years the way smoking was sure to do so. Add a few more seconds of movement to your routine. Live longer!
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