Sitting can kill you
Col. Danny B.N. Jaghab, commander of the Fort Meade MEDDAC, uses a stationary bike to work out durning meetings.

FORT MEADE, Md. -- The average person sees a health care provider just five times a year for 20 minutes a session -- 100 minutes.

That leaves 525,500 minutes during the year to engage in healthy behaviors that enhance and promote health and wellness. This majority of time is known as "the life space."

Decisions made pertaining to daily life activities -- specifically nutrition, activity and sleep -- will make a greater difference to your health than the 100 minutes visiting your health care provider.

By better managing our nutrition, sleep and activity (The Performance Triad), we are maximizing our health and changing our current health care system into a system of health.

How detrimental is being sedentary?

Physical inactivity affects at least 80 percent of the population. The World Health Organization warns that there are many disadvantages of having a sedentary lifestyle.

The University of Hong Kong conducted a study showing the correlation of physical activity to the risk of dying. In fact, 20 percent of all deaths of people age 35 and older in the study died from reasons due to inactivity. That is more deaths in China than can be attributed to cigarette smoking.

The study showed that the risk of dying from cancer increased by 45 percent for men and 28 percent for women due to lack of physical activity. The risk of dying from respiratory disease was 92 percent higher for men and 75 percent higher for women. The risk for dying from heart disease was 52 percent higher for men and 28 percent higher for women, all due to a sedentary lifestyle.

Studies also have shown that being inactive can damage your mind, sleep cycle and organs. Inactivity also leads to obesity and metabolic disease.

Women who sit for more than six hours a day have a 40 percent higher risk of dying from any cause, regardless of their fitness level, compared to those who sit for fewer than three hours.

Another study funded by the National Institutes of Health used 18 full-time employees in sedentary occupations who sat 83 percent of their work day. When given access to a pedal exercise machine for four weeks while at work, they used it for an average of 23.4 minutes per day for 12 days and burned 180 calories a day.

If they were to use this device for the same amount of time, each day for one year (365 days), they would have lost an average of 19 pounds of body fat.

The simple act of standing burns about 50 percent more calories than sitting. A person who weighs 155 pounds can burn 50 calories an hour more standing than sitting. So the next time you are in the office, at a meeting or on the phone, stand up.

If you decide to pace, you can burn an additional 40 calories per hour.

Keep in mind that the amount of activity one does is more important than the intensity of the physical activity.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 30 minutes of moderate activity every day. This is equivalent to walking two miles, washing and waxing a car, or gardening.

You can even divide the 30 minutes into shorter periods of at least 10 minutes each. If you already engage in 30 minutes of moderate-level physical activity a day, you can get added benefits by doing more. Engage in moderate-level activity for a longer period each day or engage in a more vigorous activity.

If you have to sit for your job, try to engage is some activity while sitting.

I use a desktop exercise bicycle in my conference room and pedal during meetings. On some days, I have four or five hours of meetings. I could pedal five or more miles during these meetings.

This is the way I maximize my life space.

Page last updated Fri July 26th, 2013 at 15:27