walkaboutcvr

Drive or ride to work.  Sit in front of a computer. Lunch break – walk to place and sit, or just sit and eat at your desk. Sit on the way home. Sit down to dinner. Sit and read or watch TV.

Lots of articles tell us that we are sitting ourselves to death. There are even apps and devices to remind us to get up and do something more active. Which we largely ignore.

Have yo seen the commercial that reminds you that doing one push-up won’t help? Here’s a more optimistic look at small steps. It’s a new study that says that 10 minutes of walking after sitting for a long period of time can restore damage to our vascular system.

Of course, research shows something this week and if you give it some time – a few weeks, month, a year – another study will show the opposite. Eggs: bad for you; good for you. Fat-free = very bad; now, not so bad.

I am not a gym person. Can’t jog because of knees that gave out long ago and I’m trying to avoid surgery. (Doctor told me going up stairs is good. Going down stairs is very bad for the knees.) Exercise alone won’t save you. It might even make you age faster.

A little movement isn’t going to save you either, but it seems that (again, a new study) even fidgeting has a positive effect.

Fidgeting may reduce the risk of all-cause mortality associated with excessive sitting time. More detailed and better-validated measures of fidgeting should be identified in other studies to replicate these findings and identity mechanisms, particularly measures that distinguish fidgeting in a seated from standing posture.

Standing or treadmill desk? James Levine – the inventor of the treadmill desk and co-director of Obesity Solutions at the Mayo Clinic and Arizona State University and author of Get Up!: Why Your Chair is Killing You and What You Can Do About It – says of that gym time that “something you do at the end of the day for one hour, three evenings a week, doesn’t actually offset the harm for what you do 15 hours a day, seven days a week: sit. These are independent variables — excess sitting and the presence or absence of exercise. Doing exercise is great if you do it. But that doesn’t offset the harm, even in the few people who do it, from excess sitting.”

How much is “excess sitting?”  Sitting for 12 hours per day gives you a 6 percent risk of having a disability and an extra hour each day may up your likelihood by 3 percent.  twelve sounds so high, but add up all those times in my opening paragraph and you just might be there.

Any solutions?

Treadmill desks are pricey and I doubt that your company will let you get one anyway. How about walking meetings? Do that phone call while walking hands-free or on speaker. Sit on one of those balls instead of a chair. (Apparently fancy ergonomic chairs are not a solution) or instead of sitting at my desk.

[insert walking break here to go the bathroom and get a drink – 128 steps according to my Fitbit, which has actually made me more mindful of my lack of walking]

Coaches used to tell kids to “walk it off” when they had a minor injury. Turns out that isn’t necessarily good advice. Wish my track coach knew that when he told me to walk off a knee injury in high school. But you might just be able to walk off some of the harmful effects of our predominantly sedentary lifestyle. You don’t need to go on a walkabout or even a hike. A little bit of movement and walking is a lot better than none.

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