Most of us have jobs, which require or include sitting for long periods of time. In fact, this is the case for the overwhelmingly large majority of us. There has been recent discussion of the negative health affects that are correlated to sitting all day. On the flip side, researchers from the University of Utah Health Sciences have spent time focusing on a way to offset these negative affects from sitting all day. Their study suggests that engaging in low intensity activities such as standing may not be enough to offset health hazards of sitting for long periods of time. (Some say that if you stand every 40 minutes, it offsets these negative affects). But, adding two minutes of walking each hour to your routine might be beneficial. The findings were published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
Many studies say that sitting for extended periods of time each day leads to a plethora of issues like increased risk for early death, heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems. According to another study, 80% of Americans do not achieve the recommended amount of exercise, 2.5 hours of moderate activity each week. Researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine looked at the possibility of exchanging periods of sitting with periods of lighter activities for short periods of time. They looked at whether longer durations of lower intensity activities (like standing) and light intensity activities (such as casual walking, light gardening, cleaning) could extend the life span of people who are sedentary for most of their waking hours.
They found no benefit to decreasing sitting time by two minutes every hour and spending those two minutes doing low intensity activities. However, there was a 33% lower risk of dying for those that exchanged the two minutes with light intensity activities, again that includes things like casual walking, light gardening, and cleaning.
The current focus is on moderate and vigorous activity. “To see that light activity had an association with lower mortality is intriguing,” said Srinivasan Beddhu, M.D., professor of internal medicine. Beddhu, still surprised with the results, explains that strolling and lighter activities use energy too. Short walks can add up when repeated throughout the week. If one is awake for 16 hours and strolls for 2 minutes per hour, they would expend 400 kcal each week. 600 kcal is the recommended weekly goal. 400 kcal is much closer to 600 kcal than to the 50 kcal required to stand for two means per waking hour.
Beddhu recommends that everyone should add two minutes of walking per hour awake in combination of 2.5 hours of moderate exercise each week. While these findings present a small light, moderate exercise is still great for the heart, muscles, bones, and other health benefits that low and light intensity activities do not provide.
The study looked at 3,243 participants wearing accelerometers to measure the intensity of their activities. They followed the participants for the next three years to collect data. 137 passed away during this time.
This month I’d like to take a moment to examine a school called Institute for Integrative Nutrition. The school explores over 100 different dietary theories and a huge point of focus is that each individual is an individual. Different methods work for different people and it’s important to examine your own biological and chemical makeup when finding the proper foods for you. The idea is that IIN provides a yearlong health coaching course and at the end the student receives a certificate, in addition to a plethora of information. To my understanding, the three main sections included in their teachings are: different nutrition and dietary information, the ability to listen to what someone is really saying and identify what they actually need, and then the ability to market themselves as a health coach going forward.
I strongly identify with the idea that each individual has his or her own makeup and it is important to cater to the individual to achieve optimal nutritional health. Another idea they bring up is interesting to me. This is the idea that nutrition is more than just the food on your plate or the food that enters your body. In order to effectively improve our diets, we have to improve the experiences that feed us on a daily basis and these include interactions with our peers, co-workers or family, exercise experiences, experiences that cause us to challenge ourselves, and then experiences that align with our personal beliefs of our identity. If we can feel satiated with our relationships, satiated with our cardio and satiated with our spiritual beliefs as well as feeling like we are challenging ourselves and constantly growing, we won’t turn all our energy to food for nourishment.
Joshua Rosenthal, the founder of IIN, recently published a book about this exact topic called “The Power of Primary Food” and I plan to check it out!