sedentary lifestyle

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Why To Exercise Today, Ladies: So You Don’t Die Too Soon

Many research studies are subtle, indirect, couched in caveats.

But this one, from Cornell, really cuts to the chase: the more you sit (and I’m talking to our female readers here), the earlier you may die. So, stop checking your email girls; get off your tuckus.

Here’s how the Cornell news release puts it:

Too much sitting around is bad for women's health, researchers find (Photo: JoeInSouthernCA/flickr)

Too much sitting around is bad for women’s health, researchers find (Photo: JoeInSouthernCA/flickr)

…a new study of 93,000 postmenopausal American women found those with the highest amounts of sedentary time – defined as sitting and resting, excluding sleeping – died earlier than their most active peers. The association remained even when controlling for physical mobility and function, chronic disease status, demographic factors and overall fitness – meaning that even habitual exercisers are at risk if they have high amounts of idle time.

Need we say more? (We will: there are, of course, some caveats, for instance, “sedentary time” in the study was self-reported — always potentially unreliable.) Still the researchers conclude: “Postmenopausal women who reported greater amounts of sedentary time had an increased risk of all-cause mortality after controlling for physical activity, physical function, and other relevant covariates.”

And more from Cornell PR:

[Nutritional scientist Rebecca Seguin] and co-authors found that women with more than 11 hours of daily sedentary time faced a 12 percent increase in all-cause premature mortality compared with the most energetic group – those with four hours or less of inactivity. The former group also upped their odds for death due to cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease and cancer by 13, 27 and 21 percent, respectively.

“The assumption has been that if you’re fit and physically active, that will protect you, even if you spend a huge amount of time sitting each day,” said Seguin, assistant professor of nutritional sciences in Cornell’s College of Human Ecology. “In fact, in doing so you are far less protected from negative health effects of being sedentary than you realize.”

Worse still, Seguin said, excess sedentary time tends to make it harder to regain physical strength and function. Women begin to lose muscle mass at age 35, a change that accelerates with menopause. Regular exercise, especially lifting weights and other muscular strength-building exercises, helps to counteract these declines, but her research finds that more everyday movement on top of working out is also important for maintaining health.

“In general, a use it or lose it philosophy applies,” Continue reading

Why To Exercise Today: Sitting On Your Bum May Be Treacherous

Too much sitting around is bad for women's health, researchers find (Photo: JoeInSouthernCA/flickr)

In case you missed this research, published on July 4th when you may have been lounging around on the lawn furniture, take note: researchers found that women who routinely spend long stretches sitting have a two-to-threefold increased risk of developing a pulmonary embolism, a deadly blood clot in the lungs.

Doctors from Massachusetts General Hospital and colleagues, writing in the BMJ, say theirs is the first study to prove that a sedentary lifestyle with lots of sitting can increase the risk of pulmonary embolism, typically when a blood clot in the veins of the legs travels through the bloodstream to the lungs.

From U.S. News & World Report:

The new study included 69,950 female nurses who were followed for 18 years and every two years provided details about their lifestyle habits. Women who spent most of their time sitting (more than 41 hours a week outside of work) were two times more likely to develop a pulmonary embolism than those who spent the least time sitting (less than 10 hours a week outside of work).

The link between levels of physical activity and pulmonary embolism risk remained conclusive after accounting for such factors as age, smoking and body mass index (a measurement based on height and weight), the researchers said.

The investigators also found an association between physical inactivity and high blood pressure and heart disease, which suggests that physical inactivity could be one of the hidden mechanisms that connect arterial disease and venous disease.

Public health campaigns that encourage people to be physically active could reduce the incidence of pulmonary embolism, concluded study author Dr. Christopher Kabrhel, attending physician in the emergency medicine department at Massachusetts General Hospital, and colleagues, in a statement.