Monday, Mar 21, 2011
Most of us join the Y to help us be active and to exercise so that we will be healthy and feel good. Sometimes it is difficult to make it to the Y because of snow or rain, too much work, not enough energy, not enough easy parking, just too busy, and so on. It takes effort to get to the Y or walk around Back Cove for an hour of healthy exercise. But just making the effort to sit less, by itself, has been found to be very beneficial to one's health.
Due to our desk-bound jobs, seated entertainments, and our reliance on cars and labor-saving devices, we have become increasingly sedentary in recent decades. And sedentary means sitting. Studies have linked sitting a lot with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and other chronic disorders.
American Cancer Society studies have confirmed that these health disorders are influenced by not just a matter of how physically active you, but also how much time you spend just sitting. It found that people who spend the most leisure time sitting have higher mortality rates, especially from cardiovascular disease, regardless of their overall physical activity level! This means that working out at the Y a few times a week won't fully counteract the adverse effects of prolonged sitting. Still, the worst thing you can do is to sit a lot and get little or no exercise.
The problem with sitting a lot isn't just that it burns so few calories. Studies have found that because of lack of muscle activity, prolonged sitting can adversely affect blood cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar levels, as well as increase inflammation and fat storage.
So even if you exercise regularly, try to limit the amount of time you spend sitting, whether at a desk or in front of the TV or computer. Research suggests that all you need to do is break up prolonged sitting time by getting up and taking five-minute walks every couple of hours. Even just standing up for a minute or pacing around the room may help. Then after a day of getting out of your chair as often as possible, make the effort to come to the Y for some extra healthy exercise.