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Sitting is the New Smoking So You Better Get Exercising!

Posted on: November 22nd, 2016 by Pro Active No Comments

We sit A LOT

Life for many of us involves sitting for prolonged periods of time, whether that be commuting to work, sitting at a desk when you get there, watching television, gaming or connecting with internet and social media

And it’s Bad  

Sedentary behavior is associated with increased disease and death rates from many kinds of illness

Even if you spend some of the day being active

Fitbit data scientists have pulled together data from over one million Fitbit users (suggesting they are already interested in being active) and found that on average some users can be sedentary for prolonged periods of up to 90 minutes at a time throughout the day. Recent research shows that even if you are fairly active or getting your daily steps, sitting for prolonged periods of time during the day is still associated with increased disease and death rates.

Exercise is good medicine

There is plenty of evidence to support exercise is just as effective as medication in treating a number of chronic conditions.

With as much as 422 million prescriptions filled each year Canada is the second most prescribed nation in the world.

Exercise is Medicine Canada (EIMC) is an international movement that promotes healthy lifestyles among Canadians, encouraging all health care professionals to prescribe physical activity as an alternative or as an adjunct to medication.

There is strong evidence to support that exercise lowers rates of:

Coronary Heart Disease

High Blood Pressure


Type 2 Diabetes

Cancer; including esophageal adenocarcinoma, liver, lung, kidney, gastric cardia, endometrial, myeloid leukemia, myeloma, colon, head and neck, rectal, bladder and breast.

Vertebral and Hip Fractures.


Brain Gain

Exercise can help brain function especially in the elderly and there is more evidence of its effectiveness than cognitive training

Research shows that exercise has a significant impact on brain function and health in the elderly. Teresa Liu Ambrose from the University of BC has recently shown that taking brisk walks improves brain function in people who have already had mini- strokes. In a cohort of 71 adults between the ages of 56 and 96 who had confirmed cases of mild cognitive impairment with brain scans confirming damage caused by mini strokes or transient ischemic attacks she found that at the end of six months the group that completed brisk walking 3 times a week improved in their scores on cognitive function, memory and selective attention compared to the control group. This is compelling evidence showing that physical exercise is an effective way to prevent or slow the progress of dementia. Liu Ambrose is baffled that the evidence does not seem to be making a difference to our sedentary habits. “Despite that we know about exercise for whatever reason people still have the thought that it can’t work. Maybe they think it’s too easy. Rather that put on a pair of runners and head outside they willing to pay for online cognitive training for instance even though there’s less evidence that it works”. So let’s get on those running or walking shoes and get up off that chair!

Better Mood

Physical activity has been associated with psychological benefits in by improving symptoms of Anxiety and Depression.

More Good News

Exercise still reduces cancer risk in overweight individuals and people with a smoking history

How Much / What Type of Exercise?

A new study in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology suggests that adding two minutes of walking for each hour you sit may be enough to increase life expectancy.

The World Health Organization(WHO) has made recommendations about amount and type of exercise.

Children age 5 to 17

Children should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity daily. Most of the daily physical activity should be aerobic with vigorous intensity activities incorporated, including those that strengthen muscle and bone at least three times per week. For this age group bone loading activities can easily be performed as part of playing games, running, turning or jumping.

Exercise helps develop healthy bones, muscles and joints, heart and lungs while developing coordination and movement control. Exercise also plays a key role in maintaining a healthy body weight.

Adults aged 18 to 64

Adults are encouraged to aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity per week with at least 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity. Muscle strengthening activities should be done involving major muscle groups on two or more days.


Tips for Integrating Physical Activity into Your Day

Given these facts there is no excuse not to find simple ways to get out of the habit of sitting and integrate exercise into your life!

Take the stairs instead of the elevator even if it is for a floor or two

Park a little farther away from your destination to increase your steps

Ride a bicycle to the grocery store

Walk with your children to the local library

Jump on a trampoline with your kids or grandchildren as an excellent source of exercise for strength and balance for all age groups

If you must sit at work

do it well –see our ebook for tips on how to sit!

perhaps replace your chair with an exercise ball for periods of the day encouraging your core muscles to support better postures and off load joints

Get up and move frequently

Change your position throughout the day to prevent poor postural habits. This helps to off load joints that are taking too much load and prevents a glut of common musculoskeletal injuries


Physiotherapists can help

Physiotherapists have specialized university training in exercise prescription and physical rehabilitation and are registered by provincial/territorial regulatory bodies to provide physiotherapy services. Our extensive exercise training coupled with our strong patient relationships makes us an excellent resource for exercise prescription. We can help you reach your acquired daily exercise levels by designing appropriate exercise plans tailored specifically to you.

As well as generally moving more it is vital that we are mindful to the way that we move and do exercise. At ProActive Health we frequently see people that present with a loss of movement variety having become stuck in a repeated pattern tending to always stand sit or move in that same way. Often they are unable to turn as well to one side or balance as well on one side compared to the other. The pattern may have started simply because they may be sitting at a desk all day with the computer or phone positioned to the right as opposed to centered. Then they get up and move and hold this same pattern into their next task or perhaps even into their exercise routine. This can result in strain and overuse of some tissues causing pain. They become very frustrated as pain or lack of function stops them from attaining their exercise goals.

The Physiotherapists at ProActive Health are highly skilled at assessing posture and body alignment and can quickly identify movement patterns and areas of the body that need attention. So if you try to become more active and experience problems such as joint pain, excessive muscle soreness, or difficulty progressing, we can help you! Too often people new to exercise become disheartened, but they simply haven’t been taught how to move efficiently and safely. The specific knowledge of a physiotherapist can help develop an individualized program that is right for your body, with instructions on form, type of exercise, frequency and intensity to prevent you running into problems.












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