Don’t Sit Still for This

November 18, 2011 in Fitness, General, Health by Mary Ireland

The press release begins, "As many as 49,000 cases of breast cancer and 43,000 cases of colon cancer occurring in the U.S. every year are linked to a lack of physical activity..." This press release is from the AICR (American Institute for Cancer Research) regarding new research presented at their Annual Research Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Physical Activity. As a side note I would like to point out that the fact that the AICR has an annual conference on food, nutrition and physical activity underscores the importance of these three areas. I like to think of it in terms of "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Experts at the conference presented data that a brisk daily walk helps to reduce several key biological indicators of breast cancer risk, including sex hormone levels, insulin resistance, inflammation and body fatness. In addition to breast and colon cancer, other studies have found the association between lack of physical activity and risk for prostate cancer to be probable and possible for lung and endometrial cancers. Results from the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study associate cardiovascular fitness with lower levels death from cancer of the digestive system (the entire digestive system plus the liver). This study found that the rate of digestive cancer mortality decreased as participants levels of cardiovascular fitness increased -- low cardiovascular fitness - 6.8% mortality, moderate - 4.0%, and high - 3.3%.

And you are probably thinking, "Okay, alright already, we hear this enough from you!" But hang on, I'm getting to the interesting and important part -- the study found that sitting for long periods of time can increase cancer risk, even among people who exercise daily. So the bad news is that even though you exercise daily, that may not be enough to protect yourself. The good news is that your need to move around for only 1 to 2 minutes after sitting for an hour. The chart graphic below illustrates the point very well.

The AICR also gives so great practical tips for moving more such as:

  • Take the stairs, not the elevator.
  • Set the timer on your computer to remind you move every 60 minutes.
  • "Walk with me." Hold discussions with co-worker on the move. Walk around the halls or around the building.
  • Keep light hand weights in your office to use while reading email or talking on the phone.
  • Stand up and walk around during phone calls and phone meetings.
  • Incorporate movement such as stretches, vertical push-ups and leg lifts in your office or cube.

As Dr. Grandma and I have mentioned in previous blog posts, most chronic diseases afflicting people today are related to lifestyle. Lifestyle is all encompassing - exercising, moving on a regular basis, eating healthy, breathing clean air, drinking clean water, and relaxing. It is the whole ball of wax. Our focus is on making you aware that healthy eating is about selecting the right foods and avoiding nutritionally depleted processed foods that food processors try to fool the public into thinking are healthy. Don't wait, get moving!