You finally have a gym membership that you're using. You try and get to the gym 2 or 3 times a week and feel good about that. Most women find themselves running errands at lunch, or working right through it in order to leave a few minutes early. That means more sitting than ever. In order to afford a home many people have to buy 40-60 miles away from their work. More time in the car sitting.
A recent study found women who spent more than 11 hours a day sitting or otherwise being inactive had a 12 percent higher risk of premature death from all causes than those who were inactive for four hours or less per day. And women who were inactive also were 13 percent more likely to die of cardiovascular disease, 21 percent more likely to die of cancer and 27 percent more likely to die of coronary heart disease, according to the study.
It's hard enough to etch out time to work out, but after reading these statistics it's not enough.
The women were 50 to 79 years old at the start of the study and were followed for 12 or more years. The findings were published online in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
"The assumption has been that if you're fit and physically active, that will protect you, even if you spend a huge amount of time sitting each day," study leader Rebecca Seguin, an assistant professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell University, said in a university news release. "[But] in doing so, you are far less protected from negative health effects of being sedentary than you realize."
Seguin said women begin to lose muscle mass at age 35, and that loss accelerates with menopause. Although working out regularly, especially with weights, can help counteract that effect, it's also important for women to incorporate more everyday movement in their lives.
Women need to find ways to remain active. Starting in middle age and even younger, women can make "small changes that make a big difference," she said. I asked a group of women who work full time what has worked for them.
Here's what I learned:
- Setting reminders in Outlook to remind you to get up and move. And when you hear that reminder beep go off, you get up and walk around. Use the farthest bathroom on the property, visit a co-worker, rather than sending an email or text.
- Start a walking group. Bring an extra pair of tennis shoes to work that you can leave under your desk. Ask 5 or more women to join you before, in between or after work to walk with you. And hopefully at least one person will show up each time you've planned to meet.
- Join a boot camp on the way to work.
- Find a designated area that you can meet up and simply stretch, if walking isn't possible.
Most of all we all have to remember to move.
Here's to your life long health.