Prolonged Sitting Equals Smoking!

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Take Time out and Don’t Remain Stationery!

Dr Imtiaz Ahmed Wani

According to an assertion attributed to Hippocrates, the primary prevention of disease lies in physical activity. Walking then is man’s best medicine.
In this sense, sitting is more dangerous than smoking, deadly than HIV and more treacherous than parachuting. Prolonged periods of sitting with inactivity increases risk of staggering list of morbid conditions littered with obesity, heart disease, diabetes, muscular and back issues, deep vein­thrombosis, colon cancer, brittle bones, depression and even dementia. (This is not an exhaustive list; many more diseases can be added to it).
Today, 70-80percentof occupations are considered sedentary. Humans are sitting themselves to death. With most of people now spending six to nine hours a day sitting down, this sedentary modern lifestyle is fast becoming a ticking health time bomb. The World Health Organisation(WHO) has identified prolonged physical inactivity as the fourth biggest killer on the planet (ahead of obesity).
Physical activity is highlighted as the primary prevention against 35 chronic conditions. Sedentary time is a modifiable determinant of poor health, and reducing sedentary time may be an important first step in achieving a healthy lifestyle.
Sitting habits are ingrained in office routines. Most people sit in front of the Laptops, computers, LCD TV’s for hours. However, for a healthy life, there are seven metrics. These are: maintenance of a healthy weight, getting sufficient physical activity, following a healthy diet, not smoking, preventing diabetes, and controlling cholesterol and blood pressure.
Any prolonged sitting or sedentary habit is derogatory for life’s simple seven metrics of healthy life. Placing your body in a seated position is not doing any serious damage itself; serious damage comes when the body is chronically in the same position with little or no movement for 60-90 minutes or more at a time. Persons with uninterrupted sedentary bouts of 30 minutes or more had the highest risk for death if total sedentary time exceeds 12.5 hours per day.
Reduction in total physical activity with less energy expenditure is the major contributor to an uninterrupted rise in obesity and with concurrent diabetes and impaired cardiovascular health. With the sitting period exceeding 24 hours, risk of diabetes rises as insulin effectiveness drops and incidence of cardiovascular disease doubles. Research shows that this lack of physical activity is directly linked to 6% of the impact for heart diseases, 7% for type 2 diabetes, and 10% for breast cancer, or colon cancer.
Prolonged sitting wrecks the body by dropping calorie burning to 1 per minute and alters the way the enzyme lipoprotein lipase breaks down fat reserves. Extended sitting slows the body’s metabolism, and impairs good cholesterol (HDL) levels in body. Scientists assert that sitting for too long slows down the body’s metabolism and leg muscles exhibit impaired electrical activity.
Telomeres are minute projections on the ends of DNA strands and they get shorter in extended sitting and the vice versa (lengthened) in those who sit least. Prolonged sitting leads to telomeres shortening via enhancing the rate of aging of body and accelerates in non-physiological catabolism. The longer the duration of sitting, the more negative the impact on cardiovascular health, blood glucose levels and blood pressure .
Gravity is no friend of a person who is seated. Sitting for long periods with a poor posture or lacking an ergonomically designed chair or seat disturbs physiological and anatomical orientations of the inter vertebral and facet joints to prosper chronic backache. Kinesiology research has evidenced that there is a direct relationship between time spent in sitting and risk of early mortality of any cause. The only good news in kinesiology is that people who sit for less than 30 minutes at a time have the lowest risk of early death
The key to better health at prolonged sitting or sedentary job is constant movement throughout the day and the only way to minimize this risk is to limit the time spent in sitting. For every 30 consecutive minutes of sitting, stand up and move for few minutes at brisk pace to reduce the health risks from sitting. 60–75 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per day to combat the dangers of excessive sitting will suffice. People who stand while working move around more are likely to burning more calories, lowering levels of fats, processing glucose more quickly, feeling more alert and remain in a better mood. Take the extra step and interrupt prolonged sitting time by moving whenever and wherever you can!
In the final analysis, there should be no sacrificing neither health for work, nor work for fitness. The sedentary lifestyle that has taken over the population will be the next big medical challenge in the coming years.

—The author is a surgeon specialist at DHS, Kashmir. He can be reached at: