Couch Potatoes Risk Good Health

Posted by in Lessons Learned

couc potatoes sitting downCouch potatoes, take note. Sitting for long stretches of time, no matter how it good it feels sometimes, is bad for your health. It is the one thing that you’re doing that increases your risk for health problems from obesity to diabetes to cancer.

Greater Health Risks for Couch Potatoes

A study by the University Health Network gives it to you straight. Even if you exercise regularly, it’s your entire activity profile that matters. The 30-minutes you spend in the gym doesn’t undo the damage if you spend the rest of the time sitting or being sedentary. However, your exercise helps, but doesn’t negate the health risks.

Logically, it makes sense. Sitting burns few calories. Walking at a leisurely pace will burn around 100 calories a mile, or about 20 minutes if you’re walking 3 mph. While sitting, you’re lucky if you burn about 50 calories. And that difference adds up.

And it cascades into other more serious health risks. Obesity increases your chances of developing diabetes, one of the top 10 leading causes of death.

Fixing the Problem

Fortunately, you are not doomed. There is a way to break this vicious cycle. It begins with awareness. Dr. David Alter, Senior Scientist, Toronto Rehab, University Health Network (UHN), and Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, offers some clear advice.

“Next is setting achievable goals and finding opportunities to incorporate greater physical activity — and less time sitting — into your daily life. For example, at work, stand up or move for one to three minutes every half hour; and when watching television, stand or exercise during commercials.”

Sure, knowing when 30 minutes goes by poses a challenge. That’s where the classic Pomodoro technique comes in.

Pomodoro for Productivity and Activity

You’re probably familiar with the technique. It involves 30 minutes of focused work, followed by short breaks. In this case, you’ll follow a 30-minute session with a 3-minute break. Get a cuppa. Catch on the gossip.

After four sessions, it’s time for a longer break of say 10 or 15 minutes. This is a good time to grab a midday snack. Then, rinse and repeat for the rest of your workday.

You don’t have to work on a project for that first Pomodoro. I like to do updates on my blogs and check email for the first one. I like getting it out of the way—with a time limit.

Benefits Even for Couch Potatoes

You can use the same strategy if you work at home. You can use commercial breaks as your break times. For my part, I like the sense of satisfaction I get when following the technique. I like the routine it offers. Since my schedule varies with my husband’s work schedule, this is important to me.

Couch potatoes, you have a plan now. You can increase your activity and improve your health, with the added benefit of giving focus to your work. Chris DR

photo credit: PKMousie via photopin cc