Sitting on the Dangers of Inactivity

2010-09-27 |

For roughly the last 195,000 years, the modern humans who first looked like us, called Homo sapiens sapiens, were engaged in physical activities including migration, hunting, fishing and foraging. Some 8,000 years ago, a few of our smarter ancestors or at least those living in the right areas, began to grow crops and domesticate animals. About 4,000 years ago, our ancestors figured out how to use these animals to do the heavy lifting and the most difficult of the manual labor. Despite these advances, physical activity was always a necessity.

In fact, not until near the end of industrialized western society, starting some 60 years ago, did inactivity become a part of the daily lives of a considerable portion of the population. Since that time, however, an ever-increasing number of people have become employed in some form of desk or office job with the results being an increase in medical problems caused by obesity and inactivity within the population. While exercise and better diet are a powerful means to avoid illness, it seems that exercise does not entirely make up for the time we are warming our seat cushions.

What Are The Risks Of Being Inactive?

Cardiovascular Risk From Inactivity

Late last year, researchers from Liverpool John Moores University first reported that cardiovascular risks from inactivity increased quickly following an individual becoming inactive. Their research suggested that this was likely due to a rapid decrease in the diameter of the arteries that occurs when we are not active. What this means is that regardless of whether we exercise or not, having that desk job or sitting at home on the couch still increases our risks of cardiovascular health issues.

Prostate Cancer Risk From Inactivity

In addition to cardiovascular risks, sitting also increases the risk of Prostate Cancer according to research from Karolinska Institutet. While their research did show that exercise reduces the risk of this cancer by 7% for every half hour of moderate exercise, their research also showed that cutting the amount of time sitting at work in half reduced the risks of prostate cancer by 20%.

This unfortunately means that for those whose job involves sitting all day, one and half hours of moderate exercise would be required to get the same reduction in prostate cancer risk as the person whose job only involves sitting half the day. For many, committing to such levels of exercise on a daily basis, given the demands of family and other responsibilities, is a tough challenge to meet. The result is that many men with desk jobs will face this increased risk of Prostate Cancer.

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Category: Disease Prevention, General Health, Health Risks, Medical Research

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