Sunday, December 7, 2014

Who's Fitter? Are You Sitting Too Much?

Mirror, Mirror, Who’s The Fittest Of Them All?
Is it the nurse who is on her feet all day, constantly moving, lifting patients, and pushing gurneys, wheelchairs, or heavy diagnostic equipment?  Or is it the techie who hits the gym 5 times a week doing weights & cardio, but is chained to his computer over 8 hours a day?  

Since the question was asked, let’s look at this more closely.  We need to ask  “fit for what”, and “what kind of fitness are we talking about?”  And, more importantly, what happens when we are just sitting.
Can Sitting Too Much Kill You?
As it turns out, research has found that those who sit more have higher mortality rates, and greater rates of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.* Even correcting for exercise – which does help some – researchers found significantly higher adverse effects in those who sat more than 6 hours a day.  Men who sat for 6 hours a day were found to have a 20% higher rate of mortality, compare to those only sitting for 3 hours a day.  The rates were 40% higher in women who sat.  As James Levine of the Mayo Clinic has stated “excess sitting is lethal” for couch potatoes or marathoners.

So Nurse or Techie? Or What’s Going On Here?  First, the obvious – uninterrupted sitting can result in weight gain which increases the risk of obesity.  We know that obesity has been linked to higher rates of insulin resistance, and inflammation – both of which increase the risk of cancer.

Sitting also results in less active postural or support muscles. This inactivity shuts down the electrical activity & biochemical signaling in the muscles.  One of the enzymes involved is called lipoprotein lipase. It has been found to be 75% less active in sedentary folks.  Its job is to clear the blood stream of harmful fats; the resulting build up of harmful fats in arteries can lead to cardiac disease.

The good news - interrupting sitting time with walking or even changing body positions is enough to keep the enzyme active. The experts recommend at least hourly movement.

The Bottom Line Or How To Minimize The Risks  The simplistic answer is to keep moving.  But how do you do this if your job involves sitting? Some ideas:

• Set an alert on your computer or watch      for every 30-60 minutes.  See below for    recommendations.
• Take a stretch or water break.
• Train yourself to work standing part of      the time.  See if you can arrange for a      sit/stand or treadmill work station.
•  Walk while talking on the phone.
•  Move the printer or garbage can further away.
•  If you watch TV, move every commercial break – and not just     to the fridge.  Keep some dumbbells near by and use them         during the breaks.

Activity Trackers & Alarms    Besides such high tech trackers such as Jawbone’s UP, Nike Fuelband, & the FitBand, look for Apps for your smart phone.  For free, there’s iBreaktime, Tabata Timer, Alarmed & Crazy Alarm. Apps come & go so please share if you have any experience with any of these or others. 

Alerts can also be set on your home computer.  For an Apple product, go to Settings>Date/Time>Announce Time. For Windows users, go to Control Panel>Administative Tools>Task Scheduler.  A voice will announce the time every hour.  Apps that can do this are Workrave or Breaker for Windows & Time Out for Macs. 
 A trial of the latter had my screen fading out every 15 minutes so there’s obviously some tinkering that needs to be done on my part before reactivating the program. The computer alert is working fine, however.

Free Handout - Exercise Break Activities   For ideas on what to do on your exercise break, click here.  If you get funny looks from your colleagues, hand them this blog to read, and invite them to join you.

Recipe Make Overs   Submit your favorite made over holiday recipe & I will post them for others to enjoy.  From Alex Starr, comes this family recipe for Sweet Potato & Apricot Casserole that both adults & kids will love, yet is lower in calories with just a little butter & 1 tablespoon of brown sugar.  Thank you, Alex!  
Sweet Potato and Apricot Casserole This is for those who like tart rather than sweet & sticky sweet potatoes. My grandkids LOVE these as do the adults.

1 lb. Can whole sweet potatoes or 4 medium size sweet potatoes - or buy fresh yams and cook them until just tender (yes, they are different from sweet potatoes and they are delicious)
3 T. undiluted frozen orange juice
3 T. melted butter
1 T. brown sugar
salt (to taste)
pinch of nutmeg
2 eggs
1/2 C. of chopped dried apricots

Mash sweet potatoes. Mix with O.J., butter, sugar and seasonings. Stir in unbeaten eggs and last, the pieces of apricot. Spoon into shallow buttered (or use PAM) casserole dish (glass). Bake 350 for 20-24 minutes or until brown and fluffy. Serves 4.  Double or triple, if you wish - just bake a bit longer.

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Till later - keep moving,
*References with more detailed explanations and statistics: 
Marc Hamilton, Ph.D. ILSI Presentation  Physical Inactivity: Healthy Aging & Chronic Disease.
Warren, TY, et al.  Sedentary Behaviors Increase Risk of Cardiovascular Disease Mortality in Men.

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