Sitting kills–physically and mentally

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Knowledge

We already know that sitting kills and can predispose you to diabetes type 2 and cancer. But something that was not publicized enough (at the time) was the connection between sitting and mental health issues. A recent issue of the Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association caught my attention, particularly because of two things. #1 — the President of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, Kris McLoughlin (a former colleague of mine), advocated about this great concept:

Whole health begins with mental health.”

You can read in the position paper (link above) published by APNA this year that psychiatric nurses across the country are embracing the idea that holistic wellness starts with wellness of the mind.

#2 — An article in this issue intrigued me: Sitting-Time and Exercise Predict Depressive Symptoms Among Taiwanese Middle-Aged Adults.

In a nutshell, the article determined that among a sample of 655 middle-aged Taiwanese adults, those of them who…

  • exercised regularly and sat down less
  • exercised regularly and sat down more
  • did not exercise regularly but sat down less

….all had less reported depressive symptoms than those who did not exercise regularly AND sat down for long periods of time.

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This means that those who exercised regularly were overall less depressed (in spite of sitting time), and those who did not exercise regularly (but sat less) were also less depressed.

This made me curious to assess the current state of sedentary adults in the United States.

According to data on Physical Inactivity in the United States collected by Trust for America’s Health, “Eighty percent of American adults do not meet the government’s national physical activity recommendations for aerobic and muscle strengthening. Around 45 percent of adults are not sufficiently active to achieve health benefits.”

In a nutshell, sitting kills — physically and mentally.

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Commitment

As a result, I’ve developed an anti-sit toolkit for things to do when you are not at work. One of the best ways to perform low-impact exercise is to walk. But you can think of walking more as a work out rather than a simple “stroll”.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends doing 150 minutes of moderate physical activity (which includes walking) per week. This can be broken up into 30 minute bouts over 5 days per week. But the walk can be so much more than walking leisurely.

The quantity of time you commit to an exercise pales in comparison to the quality of the exercise.

In a hurry? If you have 5 minutes to spare, take 5 minutes to walk briskly where you are able to talk but cannot maintain conversation easily. This will serve for a higher intensity of exercise in a shorter amount of time.

Got 10 minutes? If you have 10 minutes to spare, try the following workout to get your heart rate pumping and

  • 1 minute slow, easy pace (can walk relaxed)
  • 2 minutes moderate pace (walking quicker but able to maintain conversation, no shortness of breath)
  • 1 minute fast, vigorous pace (walking at a higher intensity pace, less able to talk)
  • 3 minutes moderate pace
  • 1 minutes fast, vigorous pace
  • 2 minutes slow, easy pace

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Action

What steps (no pun intended!) can you take today to get a walking workout in?

Save 5-10 minutes of your time from your phone or computer and dedicate that time to your personal wellness.

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