There’s some news you need to hear. Are you sitting down?
Well, you shouldn’t be. At least not as much as you might want to, and definitely less than most Australians do.
Most of us know that physical activity is essential to good health and wellbeing. Australian guidelines are similar to international recommendations, and say that, every week, adults should aim to:
- Do 2½ to 5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity, or 1¼ to 2½ hours of vigorous intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities
- Do muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days
- Be active on most, preferably all, days every week.
There are separate recommendations for younger and older people.
Heart and lung fitness
You might also know about the importance of cardio-respiratory fitness. This is a measure of how effectively your heart and lungs can deliver fuel and oxygen to the rest of your body. Your genes have a fair bit to say about your natural level, but it’s quite clear that exercise definitely improves cardio-respiratory fitness.
A recent study, sponsored by the Mayo Clinic, investigated both in detail. Effective and appropriate physical activity, and high levels of cardio-respiratory fitness can reduce the risk of disease and premature death.
Your exercise specialist can help you plan a program to increase your physical activity and fitness.
But wait, there’s more
There is a third crucial factor in the equation. It’s sedentary behaviour, or just plain ‘sitting down’.
It might be obvious that if you’re in couch potato mode, you aren’t getting exercise.
On average, sitting quietly burns only about 280 kilojoules (70 calories) per hour, compared with up to 1,600kj (400 calories) burned while walking briskly. Just standing up and talking doubles the amount of energy expended per hour. Walking around while you’re on the phone gets a big tick!
But physical activity is more than exercise. Research now shows that even if you exercise regularly, sedentary behaviour at other times – in your working day, commuting time, and leisure hours – is a big risk factor.
According to an Australian Health Survey:
- Adults spend an average of 39 hours per week in sedentary behaviour – at work, commuting, or at leisure. In some groups, the figure is 50 hours
- Office workers spend about 75% of their working time (23 hours) sitting down
- TV viewing takes up an average of 13 hours per week, and computers and phones 6 hours – and for some age groups, a lot more
- Physical activity in work and leisure involves only 3½ to 4½ hours
Inactivity puts you at higher risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease and, according to the World Health Organisation, is the fourth highest risk for adult mortality worldwide.
And if you don’t include physical exercise in your weekly schedule, the risk is even greater.
Speak with a trained Exercise Physiologist, who will suggest ways to sit less and increase your daily activity.
Best not to sit on your hands, (or anything else). It’s time to stand up for yourself – and for your wellbeing.