An Epidemic Within a Pandemic

By Jackie Deal

There are epidemics and there are pandemics.  To be a pandemic the situation must be world-wide.  And while we’re in the midst of a pandemic, there’s also an epidemic.  This epidemic “has been linked to increased risks of Type 2 diabetes, cognitive decline, and disability in people over 60, also death from cancer, heart disease and stroke.”  Wait a minute, let’s repeat that!  It leads to “Type 2 diabetes, cognitive decline (as in decreased mental abilities) and disability, ALSO, death from cancer, heart disease and stroke”. WOW! 

Simply put:   it’s “Sitting Disease”. One study showed that sitting less may lead to a longer life.  Now if it was something in the environment, like a plastic or an insecticide, you’d avoid it, right? You’d do all you could to prevent cancer, heart disease and stroke, right?

But sitting less?  That’s too simple, isn’t it? We like our remedies a little more complicated.  But wait ‘til you hear the remedy. “You need to move for at least 10 minutes every hour,” says Dr. Levine of the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix and Arizona State University. He has researched sitting disease for three decades. 

So how much do we sit? Well, start with breakfast, coffee, and the morning TV news: that’s an hour or two—of SITTING. TV sitting takes up a lot of our time all day long.  It wouldn’t take a lot of effort to get up and move around once or twice during the commercials.    You don’t really like those dull commercials, do you?  Why not resolve to move around during just half the commercials for a starter?  Maybe on the half hour or the hour.

”The rule of thumb in retirement is the same as during your work years: If you’ve been sitting there for an hour, it’s too long. For 10 minutes of every hour you need to be up and moving in what’s called non-exercise movement, because it’s not intentional exercise.”  (Intentional exercise would be the gym or Physical Therapy.)  A new acronym that tickles me is “neat”.  NEAT stands for” non-exercise activity thermogenesis”, and includes stretching, turning, and bending. 

Okay. Simply put: “Thermogenesis” is the production of heat in the body.  Your body “burns” calories that generate heat when you move vs. sitting around and letting the calories become fat.

 Dr. Levine recommends that you aim for 10 minutes of NEAT each hour. Exercise physiologist Fabio Comana, an instructor in San Diego State University’s School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences, agrees, “Get moving more often with small goals,” he says. “Stretch out your entire body, all the muscles that are cramped. If you do it five or six times a day, you’ll start to notice a difference.”  How neat is that?  

If you’re trying to control your weight (and aren’t most of us?) you might be interested in “lipoprotein lipase “. LPL is an enzyme in the body that plays a critical role in converting fat into energy.  Remaining sedentary for long periods of time can reduce the body’s levels of LPL.

So how much total time do you sit each day?  Would you say close to ten hours? How much physical activity would it take to cancel that out? There’s an answer based on a very extensive study: a “meta-analysis” of nine previous studies, involving a total of 44,370 people in four different countries who were wearing some form of fitness tracker.  The analysis found the risk of death went down with “moderate to vigorous intensive physical activity” every day.

How much?  “Up to 40 minutes is about the right amount to balance out 10 hours of sitting.”  A walk around the neighborhood could be anywhere from 20-40 minutes.  And the study concluded: “any amount of exercise or even just standing up helps to some extent”. So:  MOVE IT!

This entry was posted in Featured, General Interest. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to An Epidemic Within a Pandemic

  1. Rick De Young says:

    Are you nagging me, again? It’s too late!
    But, thanks for the effort, although I suspect you sat for more than an hour to write it!

  2. Sharon Elliott says:

    Thermogenesis, my new word of the day. Isn’t that NEAT.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.