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Seniors should get off their butts for the health of it

Recent studies show that being sedentary not only increases your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer but may also shorten your life expectancy by several years.

I am not an overly active or athletic person and admit to hating to exercise. Most often you could find me sitting behind my desk and on the computer for ten to twelve hours at a time, writing, surfing, and so on.

Once I became a grandmother, it was hard for me to “just sit”. Watching and playing with the kids forced me to get out from behind my computer and move. Spending time with my grandchildren means the world to me and nothing, even the occasional back ache, can keep me from chasing after kids and keeping them active and entertained. Guess what? I became not only more active but healthier and had more energy. (OK, I won’t lie. I also needed to take a nap here and there.)

Australian researchers found that sitting (behind a desk, on the couch, watching TV, in front of a computer) for upwards of eleven hours a day, compared to those who sat for less than four hours a day, had a 40% increased risk of dying over the next three years! (Now THAT'S scary.)

Why? Because inertia helps to deactivate the large muscles and causes changes in metabolism which may result in the disruption of blood sugar levels. Sitting/lying down was also found to lower the breakdown of bad cholesterol and calorie-burning activities.

A Canadian study showed that moving your body had the opposite effect, and as few as ten activity breaks (15 minute walks, a trip up and down the stairs, folding laundry in front of the TV vs just laying there, etc.) could lower insulin and blood pressure and elevate the good HDL cholesterol. “A higher frequency of breaks in sedentary time or sitting per day was associated with lower risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes,” says study author Valerie Carson, Ph.D., assistant professor of physical education and recreation at the university.

Translation: being a sloth can make you sick and fat. Moving your butt can help you lose weight and live a longer and healthier life.

It’s time to get off your butt and move it, move it, move it – or lose it.

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