Monday, January 16, 2017

Do you suffer from Sitting Disease? Try this quick fix!

Hello Dear Readers. I wish you a mindful Martin Luther King Jr. Day and I hope your reflections today celebrate the good things in life.

Do you remember back in 2013 when the American Medical Association (AMA) declared obesity a disease? Here's a link to the announcement, just a little refresher:  Obesity a disease, not a choice

That same month (June 2013) the AMA announced, with less fanfare, that sitting was the new smoking and the term "sitting disease" gained awareness and attention from the leading health organizations. The AMA bluntly declared that sitting down for too long is hazardous to your health. Numerous studies support this claim and implicate the change of workplace behavior from active and service oriented jobs to sedentary desk jobs as the leading cause of "sitting disease."  The AMA points out that excessive sitting contributes to an 18 percent increase in dying of cardiovascular disease and a 17 percent increase of dying from cancer. And here's the scary part -- 86 percent of office workers report sitting at work all day, every day.
 "The science is absolute: The more you sit, the more you get sick. And the more you get on your feet and move, the quicker you regain your health and vitality." Reader's Digest "Reverse Diabetes".
 I'm one of the 86 percent and after undergoing weight loss surgery to control my obesity it seems quite counter-intuitive to then engage most of my waking hours sitting and compromising my hard-earned good health.

My workday as a research journalist is spent sitting. Sitting for very long periods of time either reading or writing about obesity management and health management. Ironically, prolonged sitting  is about the most ineffective way to pursue a healthy life that I know of. But do not despair! We can include small but significant changes in our sedentary day that will increase our energy levels, burn extra calories, tone muscles, improve posture, increase blood flow and boost metabolism.
Excessive sitting impacts our body’s metabolic system: “Today, our bodies are breaking down from obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, depression and the cascade of health ills and everyday malaise that come from what scientists have named sitting disease.” ~ James Levine, MD, PhD.
Years ago in when I was stiff, uncomfortable, and grumpy from prolonged sitting a colleague told me "Stop what you are doing, stand up, slowly do six medium knee bends, then stretch overhead, and concentrate on your breathing for 90 seconds. Just pause your day and do it, then go back to what you were doing."  Really? It sounded hokey to me. But you know what - I felt instantly energized and less hopeless about the state of my sedentary life.

How To: Knee Bends

For a medium knee bend stand with your posture straight, but relaxed, feet shoulder width apart. Elevate your arms in front of you, parallel to the ground, palms down. Slowly lower into a knee bend about half-way to sitting position. (A deep knee bend is lowering to sitting position.) Raise, pause, repeat. Six times. Then lift your arms above your head and take slow deep breaths concentrating on inhaling and exhaling for 90 seconds. That's it. Try it. I hope you are pleasantly surprised as I was to find how effective this little movement is in improving my overall wellness and reducing tension throughout the day.

Quick Reminder: Rule #4 Daily Exercise - Try Walking

Bariatric professionals are taking note to educate us one the importance of reducing sedentary time as part of our overall weight management program with surgery.  Dr. Christopher Still* suggests education about the dangers of prolonged sitting and suggestions to remedy excessive conditions should be part of our WLS toolbox. He notes, "Just as the contributors and effects of obesity are multi-faceted, so too are the approaches we take in fighting them. Educating patients on the health risks of prolonged sitting and encouraging less sedentary time is another tool in our toolbox."

An excellent website for information to reduce prolonged sitting is: JustStand.org

*Dr. Christopher Still, DO, FACN, FACP, Co-Clinical Editor, Bariatric Times; Medical Director for the Center for Nutrition and Weight Management at Geisinger Obesity Research Institute, Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, PA.

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