Whole Life Magazine

December 2012/January 2013

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success track Think On Your FEET Research shows that sitting all day long can wreak havoc on your body, even if you're a itness fanatic. But you don't have to let ofice life get the best of your health H By Elizabeth Barker unched shoulders, bleary eyes, aching back, stiff neck—nearly every ofice worker is all too familiar with the pesky effects of sitting at a desk for hours on end. But new research reveals that staying sedentary all day may have a deeper, more dangerous impact on your health in the long term, and that even a regular and rigorous workout routine can't reverse the damage of prolonged sitting. "Studies are showing that even people who are extremely physically active in their leisure time— say, people who run marathons—but who are sedentary while at work face an increased risk for a range of health problems," says Anne Peters, M.D., professor of medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. Indeed, some scientists (such as the Pennington Biomedical Research Center's Marc Hamilton, Ph.D.) theorize that sitting all day could be as bad for you as smoking in terms of its potential to promote disease. "If you came to me and said, 'I smoke a pack of cigarettes a day but I also run ive miles—that's okay, right?' then of course the answer would be No," says Kent Burden, Ventura-based personal trainer, wellness coach, and author of Is Your Chair Killing You? In fact, a recent study from the Archives of Internal Medicine sized up data on more than 200,000 adults and determined that people who sat for 11 or more hours each day had a 40 percent higher risk of dying over the next three years (compared to those who sat for fewer than four hours daily). While scientists are still working to igure out how keeping sedentary can harm your health, they've found that people prone to prolonged sitting—including those who make time for moderate to vigorous exercise—appear to have higher levels of C-reactive protein (a marker of inlammation), lower levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol, and bigger waistlines than their more consistently active counterparts. "When we're not using our muscles, we begin to lose lean body mass and gain fat mass," Peters explains. "Fat has many negative metabolic effects, including making abnormal types of blood fats that can clog the blood vessels. At the same time, lack of movement increases insulin resistance [a condition in which the body fails to use insulin properly], which can lead to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, fatty liver and even cancer." To keep your muscles in motion, Peters recommends getting up out of your chair at least once an hour. "When I'm at a job where I'm sitting a lot, I take a break every hour and walk up and down the stairs for ive to ten minutes," she says. If you can't slip away from your desk for that long, stick to your ofice and perform simple stretches, yoga poses and strength-training exercises. "While moving in general is great, you can do a lot more for your body if you amp it up and work on your strength, balance and lexibility during those little breaks," says Burden. Even just standing up while responding to emails or talking on the phone can engage your muscles, rev up your calorie burn, and—in turn—gradually help with weight loss, Burden adds. As you irst begin working to incorporate more movement into your day, set an alarm on your computer or phone to remind you to get out of your chair at least once an hour. "We get so caught up in our work, it's easy to go a few hours without ever getting up," says Camelia Davtyan, M.D., clinical professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California sitting all day could be as bad for you as smoking in terms of its potential to promote disease 24 wholelifetimesmagazine.com SuccessTrack.indd 24 11/27/12 3:11 PM

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