Are You an "Active Coach Potato?" - Walk with a Wheaton Doc - Ascension Wisconsin

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Are You An "Active Coach Potato?"

What happens to our bodies during periods of extended inactivity? The time spent just sitting at your desk, in a car, watching TV - sometimes hours on end without moving?

While the benefits of exercise are everywhere, little has been said about the physical effects of inactivity. Until recently. And the findings are shocking.

In a study, published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise of May 2015, researchers found that without a doubt excessive sitting (more than six hours per day) contributes to heart disease, various cancers and diabetes. This affects a lot of us since the average American sits over nine hours a day! Participants sitting for 23 or more hours a week had a 64 percent greater risk of dying from heart disease than those sitting for 11 hours per week or less.

"When sitting for long periods of time, you are not only NOT reaping the benefits of movement, but you are actually putting yourself at greater risk," says Dr. Mushir Hassan, an Internal Medicine physician with Wheaton Franciscan Medical Group.

To make matters worse, many in the study who sat long hours and developed heart problems also exercised regularly and led active lifestyles. They worked out, then sat for hours. While sedentary, their risk of heart disease soared.

"What this tells us," says Dr. Hassan, "is that despite exercising and activity, if you have periods of extensive sitting, you are counteracting all the work you previously did. It's a situation becoming known as being an 'active couch potato.'"

Dr. Hassan suggests breaking up periods of inactivity every 30-60 minutes.

"If you find yourself sitting for long periods, develop a pattern of standing up, stretching and strolling around your office or house. Make it a habit to move during TV commercials. If you're driving long distances, stop every few hours and walk at least 5-10 minutes. The more you move the better."

Learn more about the health benefits of walking.