Trade an Hour of Daily Sitting for Something Healthier

Could you live with one less hour of TV each day?

How about one less hour a day of social media time?

We Americans sit a lot. A new study showed that in 2001, the average American adult spent 5.5 hours per day watching TV or videos or using a computer. This excluded sitting while at work. By 2016, sitting increased to 6.4 hours per day. Lots of sitting leads to ill health. Would you consider trading an hour of daily sitting time (outside of work) for something healthier? Any of these three healthy choices would benefit you: Keep Moving, Cultivate Social Connections, and Live with Purpose.

With regard to Keep Moving, there’s zero doubt that physical activity predicts longer life and better health. For example, an international team of researchers pooled data from six long-term studies for 661,137 subjects with an average age of 62 years. Subjects were followed for a median period of 14 years. Compared to subjects who reported no physical activity, those who reported 64 minutes per day had the greatest reduction in risk of premature death (39 percent lower risk). Walking contributed most to physical activity in the study. Would you be willing to trade an hour of sitting in front of the tube each day for an hour of walking?

Did you know that owning a dog might help you Cultivate Social Connections? Actually, dog ownership predicts a host of improved health markers. These  include lower blood pressure, better blood fat profiles, reduced stress response and social isolation, and increased physical activity. A new systematic review and meta-analysis evaluated 10 published studies with over 3 million human participants. Dog ownership predicted a 24 percent lower risk of death during follow-up periods ranging from one to 22 years. More striking, dog owners with a history of acute coronary events, such as a heart attack, had a 65 percent lower risk of dying during follow-up. Would you consider trading one hour of sitting each day to walk your pooch?

Live with Purpose arises from being directed and motivated by valued life goals. Accumulating evidence shows that high life purpose predicts lower risk of dying from any cause or from cardiovascular disease. For example, researchers at the University of Michigan used data from 6,985 participants at least 50 years of age in the 2006 wave of the Health and Retirement Study. The well-validated modified Ryff and Keyes Scales of Psychological Well-being measured life purpose. Participants in the lowest category of life purpose had a 143 percent higher risk of premature death than participants in the highest category over four years of follow-up. This result accounted for a host of sociodemographic and health factors. Similarly, participants in the lowest category of life purpose had a 166 percent higher risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases. How about trading an hour of sitting each day for an hour each day doing good deeds for others in a volunteer capacity?

Shifting just one hour of sitting each day (outside of work) to a more healthful activity could greatly improve your health and well-being.

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