Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Don't Just Sit There, Do Something! Part 6

I do my best to point out major studies demonstrating a link between physical activity & mortality.  But obviously, not enough people read my drivel and listen to my exhortations since our country is getting fatter by the minute.  Depending upon who you ask, most guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise weekly or 30 minutes most days of the week.  Kick it up a notch to vigorous (or high intensity) exercise and you might be able to get away with just 15 minutes 5 days/week.  Studies demonstrate that even more exercise, say 300 minutes per week, increases health benefits and lowers mortality.

But think about it.  60 minutes/hour.  24 hours/day.  7 days/week.  That means there are over 10,000 minutes/week (10,080 to be exact).  At best, 300 minutes of exercise each week represents only 3% of our time being active (150 minutes is a more realistic 1.5%).  We generally recommend sleeping 8 hours/night so that means 33% of our time is already accounted for.  But what about the remaining 64%?  What are we doing during the rest of our day?

In an observational study published in Archives of Internal Medicine earlier this week, the authors followed 222,497 Australians for close to 3 years.  These participants, at least 45 years old, were equally divided between men & women, two-thirds of whom were either overweight or obese, yet 4 out of 5 self-reported good to excellent health.  Interestingly, 1 in 4 sat at least 8 hours/day while 3 in 4 met the 150 minute/week physical activity guideline.  As noted previously, sitting most of the day doesn't preclude one from meeting the minimum recommendations for exercise.

But what's scary is the conclusion:  even after taking into account physical activity (remember, this was a very active group of individuals, at least compared to us Americans), the more one sits, the greater one's risk for all-cause mortality.  These results are similar to study after study demonstrating that TV viewing is linked to mortality.  I suspect this is because we're usually sitting when we watch TV.

Don't get me wrong.  We still need to exercise.  But from this new study, it would appear that what we do the rest of our waking hours is just as important in its effect on our mortality.  So don't just sit there, do something! And if you don't believe this study, check out Part 5!

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