Juggling Research and Reality
Continued from Part I: Are Sedentary LifeHabits as Deadly as Smoking Cigarettes?
Long-term studies have shown that intelligent LifeHabits make a big difference in how long (and how well) we live.
A new study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed how over 11 years sedentary habits shorted life as much as smoking! Over half of 70 year old men who were sedentary died compared to a quarter of those men who were active.
But it’s not just about keeping the body moving – what you do at rest is hugely significant, as shown by a new meta-study comparing the findings of 47 studies that strongly supported the idea that “Sitting is the New Smoking.” Prolonged sitting increased overall mortality by 24%, even if you exercise. Among other observations, researchers found that people who sat over 6-12 hours a day had a 91% greater risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes!
So, exercise and activity is good, and sitting is bad. But the limit of science is that researchers focus on a single aspect of life. Unlike lab rats, people have many and varied habits. Questions that remain to be answered include how much sitting is safe? How much and what kinds/combinations of activity is best if I sit? How can my posture awareness and environment be improved while sitting to reduce (or remove) the health consequences?
The question is what is high-leverage and practically doable. What’s the smart path to maximize lifespan tomorrow – and still enjoy life today?
First, we want to make wise choices with eyes open about the trade-offs. Exercising 4 hours a day might be a great idea, but at this point in my life I don’t see that happening. And if I had the time, I don’t think that’s how I want to have spent a quarter of my life. A few hours a week – especially if I make it fun – that’s a prescription I want to follow.
And then there’s a really big caveat…
ALL EXERCISE (and all sitting) IS NOT THE SAME
Bad form in sports leads to injuries. Your form makes a big difference in performance, as well as injury risk over time. Same thing for your form when exercising. Form follows function, which is why posture is universally agreed to be important for winning performance by coaches and trainers everywhere.
In sitting as well, form is really important. Slumping with your head jutted forward is poor sitting form, and it has a dramatic effect on health. Addressing your environment with ergonomic chairs or standing desks is a start, but equally if not more important is retraining HOW you sit. And how you stand. And how you move.
In other words, retraining your posture.
First step: Become Posture Aware (aka Posture Conscious)
Next: Start strengthening your posture with StrongPosture® exercise.
It will take decades for good long-term studies of multiple variables to be done. When they are, my bet is the advice will include not just staying moving to stay active, but moving well. And to the importance of good Balance, Alignment and smooth Motion in everything we do.
Not coincidentally, strengthening Balance, Alignment and Motion is precisely the goal of the StrongPosture® BAM exercises.
Holme, I., & Anderssen, S. A. (2015). Increases in physical activity is as important as smoking cessation for reduction in total mortality in elderly men: 12 years of follow-up of the oslo II study. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 49(11), 743-8. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2014-09452. Retrieved from http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/49/11/743
Biswas, A., Oh, P. I., Faulkner, G. E., Bajaj, R. R., Silver, M. A., Mitchell, M. S., & Alter, D. A. (2015). Sedentary time and its association with risk for disease incidence, mortality, and hospitalization in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine, 162(2), 123-32. doi:10.7326/M14-1651. Retrieved from http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2091327