Sitting Disease

A new study of older women in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds that sitting for long stretches of time increases the odds of an untimely death. The more hours women in the study spent sitting, the greater their odds of dying early from all causes, including heart disease and cancer. Cardiovascular risk is greatest among women who reported sitting 10 or more hours a day and getting little to no physical activity. Researchers also find that prolonged sitting has a negative effect on heart health, mostly among women who are overweight or greater than 70 years old.

Joan Vernikos, Ph.D., the former director of Life Sciences at NASA and author of The G-Connection: Harness Gravity and Reverse Aging, and Sitting Kills, Moving Heals, was responsible for monitoring the health of astronauts. Her experimental research shows that periodically standing up 32 to 36 times a day helps to reverse the health damages caused by sitting disease. In fact, standing several times a day using the same energy expenditure is more efficient in regulating insulin and lipids than a bout of intense exercise once a day sitting the same amount of time. Vernikos states, “It’s not how many hours of sitting is bad for you; it’s how often you interrupt that sitting that is good for you.”

Tips to help prevent Sitting Disease

  • Consider switching to a standing or sit/stand desk.
  • Set your phone alarm to go off every 50 minutes – do 10 minutes of stretches and movement, such as walking on stairs or dancing.
  • Stand while talking on the phone.
  • If working at home, consider several “housework” or “outdoor chores” breaks. It is a good way to incorporate standing and movement into the day (not to mention keeping up with everything). For example, run the vacuum, wash a couple of windows or do some raking or sweeping outside.
  • Schedule outdoor walking meetings instead of sitting meetings.
  • Incorporate more walking into your daily life. Park farther away from your destination. Take the stairs and skip the elevator.
  • Bring in some small weights and resistance bands to the office. Do arm curls while reading your computer screen and use the resistance bands when take your stretch breaks.
  • Put your water bottle a few steps away from your desk, on another desk, window sill, etc. so that every time you want to drink (and you should be drinking every 20 minutes), you have to stand up to get it.
  • When a challenging situation arises, stand up and gain a new perspective.
  • Bounce on a rebounder for 10 minutes twice a day to keep the lymph system moving.
  • Do three full squats every hour.
  • Put away the remote and walk to the TV to change the channels.
  • During intense gaming, stand up in between sessions and screen loads.
  • Stand up when you open and read your mail.

Pani Shoja, MD
Urgent Care Hawaii
Medical Director

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About Urgent Care Hawaii: Urgent Care Hawaii medical clinics provide immediate and urgent medical care on Oahu for Pearl City, Honolulu, Waikiki, Waipahu, Aiea, Kapolei, Kunia, Waipio, Makakilo, Halawa, Mililani, Kailua and Ewa Beach. The clinics provide quick and affordable options for people needing immediate medical care and treatment for common or everyday health problems seven days a week – no appointments are necessary. The Pearl City location is certified by The Urgent Care Association of America and is a member of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii.

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