Move it or lose…your life?

If you follow health news in the media at all, you’ve probably seen reports that watching a lot of television is linked to overweight or obesity, plus other associated health problems. The other day, I read about a study that was an interesting variation on that theme.

Researchers in Australia found that even among people who exercised regularly, the risk of dying increased with each extra hour spent sitting still in front of the television. Specifically, people who said they watched four or more hours of television a day were 46 percent more likely to die of any cause, and 80 percent more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than people who said they watched fewer than two hours of TV a day. (This study was published in the January issue of the journal Circulation.)

The likely problem, researchers said, was simply sitting still for prolonged periods of time.

This didn’t really surprise me, because human beings are meant to move, and moving is something most of us don’t do enough of anymore. The quite interesting book “American Idle: A Journey Through Our Sedentary Culture” helped open my eyes to the extent of the problem.

So many of us work in front of computers, rely on cars for transportation, then surf the Web or watch TV to unwind…not a lot of movement there!

I get a lot of regular exercise, and watch about two hours of television a week, but I do sit in front of a computer for work, and spend a lot of time sitting and studying. So I’m on a continual quest to find ways to include more general movement and activity in my day. I’d seen references to the science of  NEAT (nonexercise activity thermogenesis), otherwise known as “the calories you burn living your life,” was intrigued, then finally picked up the bible on the subject, “Move a Little, Lose a Lot: New N.E.A.T. Science Reveals How to Be Thinner, Happier, and Smarter” by James A. Levine, MD, PhD of the Mayo Clinic.

Wow. This book is amazing. First, if you are a doubter about the health value of being active in a non-exercise way, you’ll be convinced. Then, if you aren’t sure about how to go about moving more, this book lays it all out there. It’s a meaty, information-packed book, but totally accessible and easy to understand and put into practice. I really, really recommend it.