We have often written about various lifestyle practices that could negate CR benefits. One of them is sitting for long periods of time. Think about it: How much time do you spend sitting each day? The more time you sit, the more you risk death from all causes:
Sitting time and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2009 May;41(5):998-1005.
Katzmarzyk PT, Church TS, Craig CL, Bouchard C.
Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70808-4124, USA. Peter.Katzmarzyk@pbrc.edu
…We prospectively examined sitting time and mortality in a representative sample of 17,013 Canadians 18 to 90 years of age.
Evaluation of daily sitting time (almost none of the time, one fourth of the time, half of the time, three fourths of the time, almost all of the time), leisure time physical activity, smoking status, and alcohol consumption was conducted at baseline. Participants were followed prospectively for an average of 12.0 years for the ascertainment of mortality status.
There were 1832 deaths (759 of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and 547 of cancer) during 204,732 person-years of follow-up. After adjustment for potential confounders, there was a progressively higher risk of mortality across higher levels of sitting time from all causes…and CVD…but not cancer. Similar results were obtained when stratified by sex, age, smoking status, and body mass index…
These data demonstrate a dose-response association between sitting time and mortality from all causes and CVD, independent of leisure time physical activity. In addition to the promotion of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and a healthy weight, physicians should discourage sitting for extended periods.
PMID:19346988, lightly edited from National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, PubMed. PubMed.gov. accessed, May 15, 2011
Some who are reading this may think that exercise can counter the bad effects of their daily sitting habits. This is probably not the case. In an interview, the principal investigator of the study, Peter Katzmarzyk, was quoted as saying that sitting is an independent risk factor for death – No matter what your lifestyle: smoker or not , exerciser or not.*
*Men’s Health. Bill Phillips and the editors: “The Most Dangerous Thing You’ll Do All Day.” Mar 30, 2011.
One of the reasons that sitting causes such problems is that it raises glucose levels – countering a basic tenant of CR Way practice. And we know that higher glucose levels increase risk for cancer, diabetes, and heart disease while likely making longevity genes quiescent.
Moreover – simple, passive standing facilitates digestion and bowel motility, contributes to osteoporosis prevention, and increases concentration. So, just as a way to increase quality of life – standing makes sense.
Such knowledge made us change our lifestyle and spend a lot more time on our feet. To do this, several things had to change:
First, were our work stations. We had to have the flexibility to sit or stand while working at our computers and to be able to change the height of the standing position so that Meredith at 5’ 4” and Paul at 5’ 11’ could use them. Here, the goal was to have our computer monitor positioned so we are looking straight at the screen.
We also wanted something that was affordable, yet good looking. Besides our esthetic preferences, if the media folk who come here wanted to do an interview with us at a workstation, we would feel comfortable having it seen on television.
After quite a bit of looking, we decided on the Wallaby, a simple desktop that allows us to sit or stand, positions the monitor ergonomically, provides enough space for things like work materials and a glass of water, besides the mouse and keyboard. It is part of a family of products: Sit or Stand Desktops for people who want to avoid the life-shortening risks of sitting and get the life-enhancing benefits of standing.
Still, standing for long periods can increase foot problems, especially for slim people who might be at risk for plantar fasciitis, a painful foot condition that can include swelling. So we use a thick rubber yoga mat to stand on so that the floor in front of our computers is softer.
We also use MBT Shoes, which are well known for providing many health benefits and thick, foot-protecting socks to make it much easier to stand for long periods of time much easier.
The yoga mat, shoes, and socks are also part of our strategy for minimizing irritation, for example when we do jumping exercises – part of the CR Way practice for building strong bones.
And moving about makes sense too. We don’t advocate standing rigidly for hours. So we take occasional exercise breaks to keep us on our feet for most of the day and moving around as much as possible. This helps glucose stay low, helping burn fat that might otherwise end up in arteries.