Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Taking a Stand

"Life's not about fitting in... It's about standing out." - unknown

How many hours a day do you spend sitting at work, in your car or watching television?  The answer is probably too many.  In fact, you are probably sitting down as you are reading this.

A particular article in Men’s Health cited a study in the journal of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise that will make you want to stand up to read the rest of this.  The study examined the lifestyles of more than 17,000 men and women over a period of thirteen years, and found that people who sit for most of the day are 54% more likely to die of heart attacks. 

Another article in the New York Times cited the American Cancer Society, which tracked the health of 123,000 Americans.  The men in the study who spent six hours or more per day sitting had an overall death rate that was approximately 20% higher than the men who sat for three or less hours a day.  The death rate for women who sat for more than six hours a day was about 40% higher. 

I am sure you are thinking that this does not apply to you because you eat healthy and exercise regularly but that is not necessarily true, the participants in these studies are not limited to any particular type of person. 

“We see it in people who smoke and people who don’t,” Peter Katzmarzyk told Assistant Editor of Men’s Health, Marie Masters. “We see it in people who are regular exercisers and those who aren’t. Sitting is an independent risk factor.”  It is alarming to think that no matter how much you exercise or how well you eat, your chances of dying an early death due to a heart attack nearly doubles because of sitting too much.

Now that we know the facts -  what can we do about it?  Simple answer is stand up more.  No matter what your job is you can make small changes that could possibly increase your life span.  I work in a cubicle, where I was sitting and working on a computer all day; but when I read about these studies, I got rid of my chair and built a standing desk.  It was difficult in the beginning, but after a week of standing my feet and legs were use to it.

Me hard at work and supporting the Crimson Tide (don't worry about the mess!)

Personally, standing at my desk during work has also helped with my ultra running.  In ultra running you can be on your feet for 20+ hours at a time and that is nearly impossible to replicate in training. Creating a standing desk has helped me get more time on my feet, which has only improved my tolerance for running for long periods of time.

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