Outlive Your Sofa

Tips To Stay Active

By Michael Roizen, M.D., And Mehmet OZ, M.D.

It’s the health whodunit of the year: Millions of unexplained deaths, and a network of criminals so bland, so…boring …that they escaped notice for decades.

Stand up, you’re sitting on one! We’re talking about your sofa, your kitchen-counter stool, even your desk chair. In a new 13-year study from the American Cancer Society, healthy women who spent at least six hours a day of their leisure time sitting around were 37 percent more likely to die – even if they got serious amounts of exercise – than those whose tush time was less than three hours. In physically active men, heavy-duty sitting boosted risk 18 percent. In men who weren’t active, it raised their risk as high as 94 percent!

You read that right: As important as exercise is, it can’t completely erase the damage prolonged sitting does to your body. A wave of recent research confirms that too much chair time, both at home and on the job, is a serious smack-down for your cardiovascular system, metabolism and ability to keep blood sugar stable. Makes the combo treadmill-desk Dr. Mike uses seem even smarter.

Sitting still for an evening of “must-see” TV dials back a key enzyme in your muscles called lipoprotein lipase. This stuff does excellent things: It helps maintain your good HDL cholesterol and works to keep your heart-threatening triglycerides, blood pressure and blood sugar at healthy levels. The good news? Interrupting a long sit, even for a short walk around the house or a trip to the office water fountain, breaks the evil spell.

Chair time is turning out to be such a serious health risk that we want you to add “stop sitting” to your list of health priorities. Put it right up there near “quit smoking,” “walk every day” and “scuttle the Moon Pies.” Here’s how:

Never sit when you’re on the phone. Walk and talk. Do laps around the house. Practice leg lifts under your desk or stand up and do a few stretches. Just standing increases your exertion level 30 percent.

The cat wants out AGAIN? Say thanks. It’s trash night? The dishwasher’s beeping? You need to vacuum? Cultivate gratitude. Remind yourself that anything that gets you off the couch, even briefly, is a good thing.

Watch less TV.  Virtually anything else you do is better for you. Every hour sitting in front of the tube boosts your heart disease odds 18 percent, and your risk for a fatal cancer 9 percent. Average daily TV time for Americans and Canadians? Five hours. Practice the piano, read the newspaper (even turning pages is more active), fold the laundry or patrol the backyard with a pooper-scooper. Cutting your viewing time in half could help you burn an extra 840 calories per week – the same as walking 8 miles! – without even trying.

Gotta watch your favorite show? Multi-task. We’re not always fans of doing two things at once. But when one of them involves the tube and the other exercising, it’s downright brilliant. Move the treadmill or exercise bike into the rec room. Permanently. Wrap the remote inside your yoga mat and put your hand weights on top. Slip into comfy pants and sweat along to Dancing with the Stars.

Log some face time. In-person chats aren’t just for Jay, Ellen and their A-list guests. Instead of e-mailing your buddies about chili night or phoning the guy two cubicles down, dislodge your bottom from your swivel chair and walk over there. Instead of texting your kids when it’s time to set the table, go get them. (Yeah, we know you finally learned how to text…GD 4 U…but show off another time.)

Aim for a five-minute break every 60 minutes. Stroll the halls, make some tea, do sit-ups in your office (hey, if you’ve got an office, a door is one of the perks!). Or simply move around looking busy; straightening up the supply area doubles your exertion rate and impresses the boss. Even a minute or two helps.

Get on the ball. By which we mean, sit on an exercise ball instead of your office throne. Using one for an hour or two a day – all at once or in short stints – activates the big muscles in your legs, back and abdomen as they keep you steady. Think of yourself as a sleek circus seal, with legs.

The YOU Docs, Mehmet Oz and Mike Roizen, are authors of “YOU: On a Diet.” Want more? See “The Dr. Oz Show” on TV (check local listings). To submit questions, go to www.RealAge.com.

(c) 2010 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet
Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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