Sitting, The New Smoking

A young woman (of unidentified hair colour) is terribly overweight.  She goes to her doctor who puts her on a strict diet. “For the next two weeks, I want you to eat regularly for two days, then skip a day. The next time I see you, you’ll have lost  five pounds.”  When the woman returns she’s lost nearly twenty pounds. “Why, that’s amazing!” the physician says. “And you followed my instructions?”  The woman nods. “I sure did.  But I have to tell you, I thought I was going to drop dead that third day.” “From hunger?” asked the doctor.  “No, from all that rope skipping!”

The problem today is not skipping but sitting.  Research shows that being idle in a chair for six hours a day puts you at a much greater risk for a whole host of diseases (as opposed to those continually on the move).  This is especially significant, for the average Canadian now sits nine hours a day.   As Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic puts it, “The trick, the trick, the trick, is to have it in here (pointing to his brain) that sitting is now the new smoking – it is literally bad for you.” 

And the search for solutions had led to the trek-desk (a combination office area and tread mill).  The work platform is counter-level height and the walk-station speed is one mile per hour.  Most people end up treading about 35 miles per week.  This is said to burn off energy at the rate of 100 calories per hour equaling a loss of one pound per week or fifty-two pounds a year.
Corporations and companies installing trek-desks in their offices are finding that employees are showing increased fitness and less absentism.  In the meantime, experts recommend the following:

    ● Set an alarm on your desk to go off every hour, and if possible at your job, then take up to a ten-minute walk.

    ● Drink lots of liquids, particularly water.  It is good for you and will keep you walking to the washroom.

    ● If there are things you can do without having to sit at your desk (think, read, call, etc.) do it while walking.

    ● When driving, don’t look for the closest place but the farthest away you can park and still safely walk.

    ● Wherever able, walk the farthest (furthest printer, go and tell instead of e-mailing, distant washroom, etc.)

    ● And the biggest corporate work place adjustment to date?  No sitting around a table but walk-and-talk meetings.

According to Dr. Levine, “A good way to tell how you’re doing when it comes to walking is to wear a pedometer, a device which keeps track of the number of  steps you are taking.  A good goal is10,000 a day.” 

Example – A round-trip walk from Wingham Baptist Church to Tim Hortons is a little over 2,000 steps.