Scientists have calculated that limiting the time we spend sitting to just three hours a day could add an extra two years to our life expectancy! Maybe it is time to ditch the TV and get active instead. In fact, the report says that if we cut daily TV viewing down to two hours we could add 1.4 years to our lives.
Prof David Spiegelhalter, an expert in risk calculations at the University of Cambridge, said: “This is a study of populations, and does not tell you personally what the effect of getting off the sofa might be. It seems plausible that if future generations moved around a bit more, then they might live longer on average. But very few of us currently spend less than three hours sitting each day, and so this seems a very optimistic target.”
How active should you be?
The NHS Change 4 Life website suggests that adults should have at least 150 active minutes each week. Change 4 Life says that being active means getting your heart rate up, feeling warmer (perhaps even breaking into a light sweat) and making your lungs work harder. It also makes it clear that being active doesn’t have to mean going to the gym: “why not swap the living room for the garden? Gardening is a great way of getting outdoors and being active – you could even have fun growing your own veggies too!”
Even if you do get active for the recommended amount of time, many of us still are sedentary for large parts of our lives. For example, if you work in an office you may spend most of your working day sitting and a growing body of evidence suggests the more time we spend sitting, the less healthy we may be.
Several studies have linked sitting and television viewing to conditions like diabetes and heart disease as well as an increased overall risk of death, although finding a link is not the same as proving one thing actually causes the other.
Dr Peter Katzmarzyk and Prof I-Min Lee who carried out the review stress that their estimates are theoretical. But given that the adults in their research spent, on average, half of their days sitting “engaged in sedentary pursuits”, the findings could provide an important public health warning.
Natasha Stewart, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “This research only suggests a causal association between sedentary behaviour and a shorter life expectancy. It also used American data so we’d need to see more research to understand what it means for the UK population. However, it does highlight what we already know about sedentary behaviour being a risk factor for developing heart disease. And recent UK guidelines suggested we should all minimise the time we spend sitting down. We all need to be regularly active to keep our hearts healthy. So whether it’s by walking to the local shop rather than driving, or playing sport rather than watching it on TV, there are lots of ways to be more active and improve your health.”
Time for an active challenge?
As part of my year without beer, I have also taken up running and will be taking part in the Apperley Quarter Marathon and the Great South Run! Until 3 weeks ago the only thing I would ever run was a bath, yet I have already covered 35 training miles and continue to improve my pace with each successive run. I have to be honest and say that I have always found running boring, but having given myself the challenge of the Great South Run I am actually finding the training enjoyable and quite addictive. If running is not for you, then maybe try something else… One of my favourite ways to get active is to rebound on a mini trampoline. I put some loud music on and jump up and down and sing along. My kids love doing this too.
Year Without Beer
Never mind the Olympics, 2012 is my Year Without Beer! I am spending all 366 days of this leap year alcohol free in an attempt to raise money for 2 charities that are both very close to my heart.
If you want to show some love them please donate to my year without beer and give your support to one of these fantastic causes:
- To donate to Cancer Research UK please click here to visit my just giving page or donate by text – send AYWB66 and the amount to 70070. For example, texting “AYWB66 £5″ will donate £5.
- To donate to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust please click here to visit my just giving page or donate by text – send AYWB55 and the amount to 70070. For example, texting “AYWB55 £5″ will donate £5.