We recently blogged about the importance of “activity breaks” …. getting up and moving around every hour or so from the chair or couch. Gretchen Reynolds of the New York Times recently wrote about sedentary lifestyles… and how TV is an important factor in assessing how inactive we may be. The National Cancer Institute followed 250,000 Americans over a period of eight years. The study found that those people who watched TV for 7 or more hours a day had a much higher risk of premature death than did people who sat in front of a TV less often.
However, while exercise slightly lessened the health risks of sitting, people in the study who exercised 7 hours or more a week, but then spent at least 7 hours a day watching TV were more likely to die prematurely than the group who worked out 7 hours a week and watched less than an hour of TV a day! While exercise is important, this study seems to suggest that sitting long periods at a time is most harmful.
After gathering this information, Reynolds made some personal changes. She canceled her cable TV subscription, which horrified her 14 year old son. She felt he could find better things to do with his free time than watch the Food Network shows. Reynolds set up a music stand next to her desk. She props reading material on it, and stands there often during the day. Rather than sitting while she is on the phone, she “prowls” around the office. While these were some of her personal changes, and may not work for the rest of us, maybe it will get us thinking about some “tweaks” we can initiate to keep ourselves more vertical each day! New York Times 4/28/12