For your health’s sake, keep a sitting journal


How much time a day do you spend sitting? If you don’t know or have only the vaguest idea of how long you sit each day, then it’s time to start keeping a sitting journal that tracks your sitting time. That’s because there has been a great deal of new research and many recent studies which prove that too much sitting can be dangerous — even fatal — to your health.

The popular site WEB MD says that “sitting for long hours is linked to worse mental health, a higher risk of death from heart disease and other causes, (and) a higher risk of being disabled.”

Dr. James A. Levine, Ph.D., wrote in an article for the Mayo Clinic, “Too much sitting seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.” He quotes one study which states that people who spend more than four hours a day sitting and watching television had a nearly 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause.

This doesn’t include just the folks who sit and watch TV. Any form of sitting for long hours is detrimental to good health. That includes sitting at a desk while working or sitting in a vehicle as either a driver or a passenger. The American Journal of Preventative Medicine said that those who spend more than 11 hours a day sitting are at the highest risk of death. Yes, some people spend 11 hours a day sitting down!

Many of the risks of sitting for long hours need no studies, some things are obvious. Balance, for example, comes with practice. Walking or moving around gives a person an innate sense of how to hold their body mass in balance. But those 55 years and older rarely move around as much as they did when younger. That takes away the surprise from statistics showing seniors are the most common victims of falls that cause disability or death.

Another fact which is so obvious it needs no research is that spending much or most of each day sitting may lead to obesity. If calories from food don’t get worked off with exercise or other activity, they will be stored as fat.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that an hour spent walking or jogging will offset four or five hours of sitting. It doesn’t work that way. The effects of long hours of sitting are profound on every part of the body; from blood vessels to the respiratory system. A relatively short time of activity compared to the longer time sitting doesn’t balance everything out.

So how do you keep, and use, a sitting journal? Start with purchasing at least four identical small notebooks. Distribute them to the places where you spend time sitting. Put one on the kitchen table, for example, another in your vehicle. If you take public transportation, carry the notebook in a purse or fanny pack. Place another near the couch or chair where you watch TV. If you spend time sitting for a hobby, such as reading or putting together a puzzle, put a notebook where you do it.

Whenever you spend time sitting, use one page of the appropriate notebook to write down the date on the top of the page and the time you started sitting as well as the time you stood up and went somewhere else. If you’re pulling out the notebook that you carry with you outside your home, don’t be embarrassed if others stare if you start writing down the time you sat to have lunch and the time you stood up to go elsewhere. Remember, a sitting journal isn’t kept forever. You just want to get a close estimate of how much time a day you spend on your butt.

Once you have a good gauge of your sitting habits, start adjusting your sitting to a more healthy routine. Stand or pace around while watching TV. Stand while using your phone. Take a break after every 30 minutes of sitting and do side bends, toe touches or march in place.

It may be hard to spend more time upright at first, but with time, it gets easier. And the results, which include losing fat, gaining more mobility and lessening the risk of a disabling fall, are certainly worth it.

———

Wina Sturgeon is an active 55+ based in Salt Lake City, who offers news on the science of anti-aging and staying youthful at: adventuresportsweekly.com. She skates, bikes and lifts weights to stay in shape.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Living

Janelle Monae adds second Atlanta summer show at Tabernacle
Janelle Monae adds second Atlanta summer show at Tabernacle

Janelle Monae will wrap her tour in Atlanta this summer. BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene The Atlanta love for Janelle Monae has prompted a second date at the Tabernacle this summer. Monae, who drops her long-awaited third solo album, “Dirty Computer,” on Friday, will perform at the venue at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 4-5. Tickets are...
Meghan Markle’s ‘Suits’ character ties the knot with co-star in her final episode
Meghan Markle’s ‘Suits’ character ties the knot with co-star in her final episode

Before American actress Meghan Markle marries British royal Prince Harry next month in real life she married her co-star as lawyer Rachel Zane in her final episode of the television drama “Suits.” >> Read more trending news  The last episode featuring Markle aired Wednesday night on USA Network and it also marked the last appearance...
Buckhead Dutch Colonial keeps classic charm through modern update
Buckhead Dutch Colonial keeps classic charm through modern update

A 1930 Dutch Colonial delighted Kim Rowe when she saw the Atlanta home perched above the street with large windows, numerous French doors and an adorable serpentine path. “I fell in love with the classic architecture of the home the minute we walked in and we made an offer on the spot,” she said. In the 11 years she and her husband, Thomas...
Lauren Cohan (Maggie) returning to ‘The Walking Dead’ season 9
Lauren Cohan (Maggie) returning to ‘The Walking Dead’ season 9

Posted Wednesday, April 25, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog Lauren Cohan, who has played Maggie since season two, will return for the first half of ninth season of “The Walking Dead,” Deadline.com reports. Cohan had been cast for an ABC action-dramedy pilot “Whiskey Cavalier...
NBC’s Lester Holt to rock DC this weekend with Stones’ Chuck Leavell, Kevin Bacon 
NBC’s Lester Holt to rock DC this weekend with Stones’ Chuck Leavell, Kevin Bacon 

Lester Holt has reported from North Korea, waded through Texas flood waters to cover Hurricane Harvey and coaxed an eye opening comment about the firing of FBI director Jim Comey from President Donald Trump during an Oval Office interview. Yet none of that flustered the NBC Nightly News anchor as much as having to decide on an outfit for his band&rsquo...
More Stories