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Don't be a Couch Potato

February 08, 2012

Did you know that being a “couch potato” (i.e. sedentary throughout the day) can increase your chances of dying? According to the latest research, more and more evidence is coming out that a sedentary lifestyle is an independent risk factor, regardless of how much you exercise or not.

What that means is just because you do your 30-60 minutes of exercise a day, doesn’t mean it’s ok for you to be a couch potato the other 23 hours of the day! Of course, being totally sedentary 24/7 puts you in the highest risk category for death and illness.

Given this growing body of new evidence on physical activity, we are now looking at recommendations in two parts:
1) Getting your minimum 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity at least five days a week for a total of 150 minutes of cardiovascular activity a week, and
2) Building physical activity and movement into the rest of the your day.

Many of us sleep in bed, eat sitting down, sit in our cars while driving, sit at a desk during the day, set at home watching TV or eating dinner, and back in bed sleeping. The goal is to try and build in more physical activity during these times, even if it’s low intensity.

Here are some ways you can reduce your sedentary time during the day:
●Use your 15-minute breaks to go for a walk around the neighborhood
●Go up and down the stairs if it’s too hot or raining outside
●Stand while you’re talking on the phone
●If you sit a lot, sit on a stability ball or use a pedaler ($20 at Wal-Mart) or stepper under your desk
●Use a pedometer to track your physical activity during the day

This last point may be the best thing you can do to increase awareness of your physical activity throughout the day outside of your regular exercise routine. Getting 3,000 steps or less a day definitely puts you in the “couch potato” status, so your goal is to increase that up to at least 10,000 steps per day.

So if you want to avoid the dangers of this deadly spud, start examining how you spend your day and see what you can do to increase your physical activity in your acts of daily living!

(For help with getting more physical activity in your life or starting an exercise program, call Health Education at 335-4131 and make an appointment with Dr. Medina.)