Stand Your Ground!

July 03, 2012

Stand Your Ground! 

 Reference:  American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Study II, Marketplace Money, Saturday June 29th, 

 “It’s indoor work with no heavy lifting.”  Nice joke.   Especially when it’s 93 degrees outside and outdoor work looks awful.  So, we all sit at desks.  All-day long.   We get up to go to the water cooler and then to get rid of the water.  We nap after lunch, drowsy over the calories we digest.  But most of us sit.  We go to a meeting or two, but again we sit.  Add it all up.  How many hours a day do you sit?  You are paid for 8 hours of work.   You get up three times for a total of 10 minutes of walking.  The math says that leaves you with 7 hours and 50 minutes of sedentary behavior.  And it’s killing us.  

We aren’t quite sure how so we don’t give it much credence. We have done columns before about the ill effects of sedentary behavior.   For example, we know that the benefits of exercise are blunted by sitting for prolonged periods.  Now, we have another slant.  The American Cancer Society has summarized the data and the picture isn’t pretty.  

 If you are a woman and you sit for more than 6 hours a day, you have a 37% increased risk of premature death.  A man who sits 6 hours a day has a 17 % higher risk of premature death.  Those aren’t small numbers.   That’s all comers.  If you are a person who gets no exercise and sit 6 hours a day, your chance of earlier death is 94% higher for women and 48% for men. Dr. Alpa Patel looked at thousands of cases of breast, endometrial, and colon cancer and found this data.  

But it’s not just cancer but also heart disease, diabetes, and stroke too.  She is an epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society and is going beyond the typical role of just looking at drugs to cure a given disease.  The prevention of cancer may come down, in part, to avoid “Sitting Disease”, the results of sitting more than 3 hours a day.  And the numbers are just about bigger than anything else. 

 WWW. What will work for me?  Time to use our collective imaginations.  We have to stop sitting so long.  How about standing?  How about getting a standing desk?  Start slow.  I learned to run with the slowest of approaches… adding the tiniest increment each day.  Now you and I have to learn to stand.  Can you get yourself to stand at work?  Can you stand and talk to your clients? Can you make a standing desk that you put your lap-top on? Can you answer your phone standing?  This is a big change but every step counts.  Can you get your printer to print out at the furthest printer in your office?  Can you go to the bathroom upstairs?  I know a professional counselor who stands while talking to his clients.  I know a secretary with a standing desk.  Can you make a rule when driving?  Stop at every other rest stop and walk up and down all the sidewalks.  I’m dead serious.  You have to build walking and standing into your lifestyle.  Bring a positive spin to “Stand Your Ground”.  Aim for no more than 3 hours a day of sitting.   Imagine the board room….

Written by John E Whitcomb, MD Brookfield Longevity and Healthy Living Clinic 17585 W North Ave, Suite 160, Brookfield, WI 53045 262-784-5300 Archives at