Sedentary behaviour – what are the risks?
Sedentary behaviour. It follows you like a shadow. It’s with you at home on your couch, in the car, at work, and your favourite cwoffee shop. It’s even at the movies and over at your best friend’s house. And slowly, bit by bit, it’s ruining your health.
While we all recognize that being a couch potato is “sedentary behaviour” it more broadly refers to any waking activity which stays below a certain threshold of energy expenditure. Technically it’s anything below 1.5 METs (MET = metabolic equivalent. 1 MET is the energy required to keep the body alive while at rest). This includes time spent sitting to watch TV, surfing the internets and you tubes, reading, driving, or even working on sweet Excel spreadsheets.
I’m sure that most of you will agree that we spend a lot of time sitting and holding on to our energy. In fact it has been estimated that the average American adult spends up to eight hours a day sitting still. And all of that stillness has its consequences.
The research is fairly clear that not moving enough can put you at increased risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, arthritis, anxiety, and depression just to name a few conditions. Oh and one more: death. Yes, studies show that those who are sedentary for greater than five hours per day have an increased risk of premature death. So there’s that.
You might be sitting as you’re reading this. You might even being thinking about standing up to move around just a little bit. Well that’s a great place to start. And I’m not going to hold on to the secret of combating sedentary behaviour until the next post. I’ll tell you right now: move more. It’s that simple. But how much, and when? Well, tune in for the next post to find out those answers.