Thursday, April 26, 2012

How Sitting Matters

Not how you sit but that you sit.

I have never missed an opportunity to remind my readers, friends, students, family and faculty of the research results (such as the two listed and linked below) that suggest sitting is harmful.

Screen-Based Entertainment Time, All-Cause Mortality, and Cardiovascular Events Population-Based Study With Ongoing Mortality and Hospital Events Follow-Up

Sitting Time and Mortality from All Causes,Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer

The results and the take home message that I frequently share is that regardless of age, gender, race and exercise level, people who sit more have higher numbers of heart attacks, more cancer diagnosis and die more from any cause of death (during the research study period).  The risk can be 50% higher in some instances and 2 time as great in others.  The point being, even if you exercise every day - if you sit continuously, without taking stretch or walk breaks, you are more likely to have adverse health outcomes than if you do NOT sit for extended (more than 60 minutes) periods of time.

The reason I bring it up today relates to a comment I made yesterday when I was in a 3 hour workshop.  That comment catapulted me back to my childhood. At the workshop, we did not have scheduled breaks but were told to get up as needed for the bathroom or refreshments.  When I did stand up, I said to the learners at my table, I am not leaving, just stretching, followed by these words. "I am not a sitter."

"I am not a sitter."  That is what got me.  I smiled - almost laughed out loud because it is something that my mother would always say and I said it exactly as she would have said it.  I am one of those girls who does not want to be reminded of how much she is like her mother - regardless of how much I adore her.  I am me.

But indeed, she did say, "I am not a sitter." As well as, "I can't sit around like they do." OR, "I don't like all that sitting."  These words were uttered at almost every one of our family get togethers or when we had visitors.  Because in my family, on both sides, our entertainment involved lots of coffee drinking, cigarette smoking and card playing, OR alcohol drinking  cigarette smoking  and cards playing or just alcohol and sitting and talking all night.

The alcohol drinkers gave up the cigarettes in the 1970s, the coffee drinkers held out longer and a few still smoke.  Mom didn't smoke after 1965 and for every two drinks the others had she had one. They had lots of drinks.

Fast forward to 2012 - very few of the people to whom I refer are still alive.  Many of them who are are not able to do much more than sit.  They are arthritic actually, one of them quite severely.
My mother is in her 80s, rides a bicycle, works as a waitress, goes bowling and well - must I go on?

Sit less  - it sure made a difference in this personal story. 

(BTW, we, in the 2000s have become a much more active family,thanks to a few of the (then) youngsters who live a different lifestyle than their elders had.)

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