Here’s a real shocker: Americans aren’t just failing to meet the minimum recommendations for regular exercise… they’re actually sitting more than ever before.
You’ll have to pardon my sarcasm. Because actually, there’s nothing shocking about that finding, which comes courtesy of a recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) analysis.
Our country’s sedentary problem isn’t exactly new—in fact, it’s one of the main driving forces behind our national obesity crisis. But since we also seem to be operating under a hefty dose of denial, I can’t pass on any opportunity to warn you about it.
The more things change…
The government released an updated version of their Physical Activity Guidelines (PAG) for Americans last year.
It’s the same advice they gave back in 2008, recommending a minimum of 150 minutes of high-intensity aerobic activity (including at least two days of moderate-intensity strength training) per week. With one main change: A simple but urgent suggestion to “move more and sit less.”
Because wouldn’t you know? Americans haven’t been doing anything of the sort.
Researchers recently looked at data from more than 27,000 NHANES participants, collected between 2007 and 2016. And they found that subjects were only sticking to aerobic activity recommendations around 63 percent of the time… a figure that didn’t budge much between 2007 and 2016.
But the one thing that did increase was sedentary behavior. And significantly, too, jumping from a daily average of 5.7 hours to 6.4 hours. The increases were highest among the educated and the obese, who both clocked around 8 hours of sedentary time daily.
Sitting kills, too
I realize the world has changed. For one thing, we used to spend significant amounts of time moving around to do basic things, like shopping. While now, you can simply shop online and have most things, even our groceries, delivered to our doorsteps.
So it would be nice if we were using that saved time to exercise, rather than sitting even longer with our devices. But clearly, that’s not happening.
I also realize that people today (and certainly here in New York) are working longer and longer hours. But this really isn’t any excuse either. Not when there are so many solutions—under-desk bikes and ellipticals, standing desks, fitness ball “chairs”—to literally keep you on your feet.
The only thing we haven’t tried are direct campaigns that warn against the dangers of “sitting disease”—a modern condition that raises your risk of chronic disease and death dramatically.
This approach has worked to reduce rates of smoking, alcohol consumption, and even forest fires. And yet, we hesitate to tell the hard truth about obesity and inactivity, lest it be misconstrued as “fat shaming.”
Well, I’ll say it—loud and clear. Sugar kills. Obesity kills. And yes… sitting kills, too. So stop doing it.
Take the stairs. Park farther away. Walk to work. Take a ten-minute stroll after breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Even if that’s all you do, make sure that you do it, every single day. Because your life quite literally depends on it.
P.S. I also discussed the very lethal risks of “sitting disease” in the February 2014 issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives (“The silent epidemic stealing your youth”). Subscribers have access to this and all of my past content in the archives. So don’t wait a moment longer… click here to sign up today!
“Americans Fail to Heed Physical Activity Guidance, Sitting More.” Medscape Medical News, 08/01/19. (medscape.com/viewarticle/916307)