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Stretch Your Legs, Save Your Life   
 
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04-Feb-2010  
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Sitting behind a desk all day or driving in a long commute can already wreak havoc on your back and your backside, and then add to that lazing on the couch after an arduous work week, your body is in danger of too much rest.

Especially during the winter where bike rides and long walks with the dog are not motivating ways to get you to go outside and get your heart pumping, recent studies have shown that sitting too much can increase your risk for serious health problems.

Although you are supposed to get between six and ten hours of sleep per day, depending on what your body needs, on the opposite side of the spectrum, being inactive while awake is proving to be more harmful than it is helpful to a lot of areas from your skin and blood circulation to your weight and your overall heart health. Long periods of inactivity will inevitably lead to an influx of pounds because your body will not be burning off the calories you consume during the day. Hospital or at-home patients who are on bed rest (including pregnant women) are often reminded to be rolled over or helped up and moved often in order to stave off bed sores or blood clots, neither of which you want to endure. Even if you stick to an exercise routine and eat a healthy diet of veggies and fruits, if most of your day is spent on your rear, you could still be at a high risk for internal problems down the line.

A 2009 study from Canada backs this up by investigating the periods of rest in different groups who both exercised the same amount per day. The more inactive group ended up having higher risks for cardiovascular disease, for some of which could be fatal. Over 17,000 Canadiens participated in the multi-part study done by the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Scientists studied the length of seated time and theorized that for the group that sat the most, these people were around 50 percent more likely to die in the years allowed for the follow-up process. Although some of the people in this group were obese, the scientists controlled for factors like smoking, age, health problems, alcohol consumption, and weight between the groups.

Sitting for more than four hours—the minimum period of inactivity the scientists deemed more dangerous—they found that allowing the body to become sloppy can lead to a problematic production of lipase, the enzyme secreted by the pancreas that breaks down the fat molecules of your body.

Another study—just released recently in the British Journal of Sports Medicine—from the Karolinska Institute and the Swedish School of Sport and Health, supports the Canadiens in their research and went so far as to compare groups of working individuals throughout the work day at an office who were able to take multiple breaks and have the chance to get up and walk around versus a different group who barely moves all day where the employees sit primarily at a desk with the same results: higher chance of daring your body to develop a serious disease from an unhealthy habit, which can even lead to cancer.

These studies may be a wake-up call to some people while others will understand the need to get up off the couch and drop the remote but are not sure how to become motivated. Here are some fun or different ways to put a little more sweat on your brow whether during a stressful work week or relaxing full weekend: Organize a walk with friends or office mates and stick to a routine; take the stairs instead of the elevator or run up and down the stairs a few times every hour or so; stand in the break room while chatting or visit coworkers; place items out of your reach that you may need throughout the day so you will have to get up to use them; or, have the whole family take the dog on a walk and play a word game to keep you busy.

With endless possibilities, there is no end to the ways you can motivate yourself to get on your feet more and off your bottom. If only someone would find a smart and easy way to type while walking on a treadmill.
 
 
Source: Lara Endreszl
 
 

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