A shocking new finding reported in The Lancet shares research proving that a sedentary lifestyle may be as life-shortening as cigarette smoking. While there are a number of contributing factors to this problem, some are easily remedied – remedies like working at a manual sit to stand office desk or electric sit to stand office desk, and brisk walking regimens, for example – but there are other solutions as well. A number of research papers contributed to The Lancet’s article, one of which indicated that as much as 30% of the world’s population is ‘entirely inactive’, with over 40% of the U.S population falling into this category.
Significantly, The Lancet article indicated that 1 in 10 deaths occur due to a sedentary existence, with various disease processes being accelerated due to lack of physical activity. Individuals who are mostly sedentary like office workers, computer-related personnel and others, all too often do not get their heart rate up, which movement provides. This means that the most important muscle in the human body is not being exercised properly, leading to illness, disease and eventual death.
What diseases are caused by inactivity? There are a number of them, the most dramatic being cancer. Yet, the primary insidious result of insufficient exercise and a sedentary work style is obesity which is linked to type II diabetes, heart disease and numerous other ailments. Collectively, all diseases associated with inactivity are killing more people than cigarettes.
It was concluded that just by raising activity levels by 25%, approximately 1.3 million lives could be saved around the globe. Something as simple as walking more could be beneficial. In the U.S., average steps per day are around 5,117 (or 2.5 miles). Twice that or 5 miles per day is what is required to qualify as ‘active’. Only 30 to 40 minutes of a fast walk puts a person into the ‘lightly active’ range which reduces health risks considerably.
A recent Harvard study demonstrated that people are unaware of how little they actually walk. It was demonstrated that pedometers help show how much or how little the average person walks in a day. Yet, with education and guidance, people can walk far more than they previously had thought possible, for some as much as 10,000 daily steps.
As mentioned earlier, another surprising and easy solution is to use a adjustable standing desk for those folks using computers or performing office functions. Some innovative work environments have even installed adjustable height desks over a treadmill. Even standing alone not only encourages movement naturally, it also burns more calories than sitting. In fact, enzymes that burn fats and carbohydrates actually shut down while sitting thereby adding fuel to the obesity fire.