Sitting is the new smoking

I would be embarrassed to search back through my blogs from the past few years and see how many times I have posted about research which warns me that I sit too much

I am hardly a couch potato!   I exercise every weekday morning with two friends. I run, ride my bike or walk with my husband on weekends. But the research that has caught my eye is not so much about people who never exercise as it about people like me who value physically fitness, but whose jobs and hobbies involve sitting.

I come in from exercise.  I check email, I check facebook, I do my Bible Study.  Then I get to work – on my computer.  I finish work and pursue my genealogy hobby – on my computer.  It is not uncommon that I sit until it is time to fix lunch.  After lunch I am back on the computer for the afternoon.  In the evening if my Honorable Husband wants to watch a movie – we sit.

While we were in Alaska my entire routine changed dramatically.  On the cruise our cabin was on Deck 9.  Food was on Decks 4 and 10.  Outdoor decks with views were on 11.  Entertainment and shopping were on Deck 5.  Because we were enjoying the abundant healthy food choices HH and I decided to forego the elevator and take the stairs.  So we were climbing up and down all day long.

There was only one cruise day when we were at sea.  Every other day there was some kind of sight seeing.  Some days we explored Alaskan cities.  Some days we took scenic trails.  Some days we took a tour – all of which involved walking.

I didn’t have a scale, but I could tell by the fit of my clothes that though I was eating much more than I eat at home, I was not gaining weight.  The only time I sat was at meals, and for a little while in the evening when I backed up my photos.

Then we met our kids in Anchorage, and they were ready to hike.  We hiked in Denali; we hiked in Fairbanks; we hiked a lot in Valdez.  We got back to Anchorage and hiked some more.  As we drove between cities every hour or so we would pull out at a scenic spot to let our grandson stretch his legs.  Many times we would take a short trail or climb around on the rocks.

I got home to find out that though I had been eating more, I had lost more than 3 pounds.  I didn’t need to read an article.  I needed motivation to get up and move once an hour.

I reworked my to do list, dividing my projects between computer and stand up.  When I finish a computer task, I do a stand up project.  I realized that when I was working, I had needed a mental break, so I would check the news or twitter.  That, of course, meant more sitting, and was basically wasted time.  When I did a stand up project, I not only reduced my sitting time, but I got the mental break I needed, and I rested my eyes.

When my grandson BC comes to visit, he doesn’t like it when I’m on the computer.  He doesn’t let me sit.  We are up and down, reading, working puzzles, feeding the deer, going to the neighborhood pool.  I feel better when he is here.

I am typing this blog on my laptop standing at the bar in the kitchen.  I’m doing calf raises in between sentences.

I haven’t perfected this yet or made it a natural part of my lifestyle.  Old habits die hard, and I really like computers!  But I know I need to make this work.  I was talking to a friend the other day and she said, “Sitting is the new smoking.”  Wow!  I remember when the Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking came out in 1964.  I remember several relatives taking it seriously and throwing away their cigarettes.  I need to be just as serious today about sitting less as they were about smoking less.

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