By Kate Lunau - Tuesday, January 8, 2013 - 0 Comments
It’s tied to obesity, diabetes and cancer–and exercise won’t make up for it
On Sept. 24, 2007, a Monday evening, Cathleen Renner sat down in her home office to tackle a project. Renner, 47, was a manager at AT&T, where she’d been for 25 years. It isn’t clear how many hours she spent at the computer that night, making a plan for a possible employee strike, but she did send an email to a colleague at 12:26 a.m. When her son got up at 7 a.m., she was at her desk. Renner took him to the bus a little later, and as she walked out the door, she clutched her leg and let out a cry of pain. Still, she returned to work. At 11:34, she called an ambulance. Renner was dead by the time she reached the hospital.
Like most of us, Renner spent long hours on the job seated at her computer; in a workers’ compensation claim filed after her death, her husband argued that sitting was what killed her. (Renner died of a pulmonary embolism after a blood clot formed in her leg.) The case was not exactly straightforward; AT&T called an expert who pointed out Renner was morbidly obese, weighing 304 lb., and had recently started taking new medication, birth control pills. But in 2011 a New Jersey judge ruled in James Renner’s favour, noting his wife’s job required her to “spend unusually long hours at her computer” and awarding him workers’ compensation benefits as a result. The decision was extremely unusual, the first of its kind legal observers could recall. But if a growing number of health experts are right about the dangers of sitting, it could be a harbinger of things to come. Continue…
By Kate Lunau - Monday, March 12, 2012 at 11:50 AM - 0 Comments
And exercising won’t necessarily save you
Shoehorning a visit to the gym into a busy day is difﬁcult for almost anybody. Jacqueline Gradish, a personal trainer in Toronto, sees it all the time with her clients, who are “crammed into their workdays,” she says. “They come ﬁrst thing in the morning, because it’s the only time they have control over.” Even after a session with Gradish, many will ﬁnd themselves spending the rest of the day barely moving: seated at a desk, in a car, or after work, on the couch. “Some of them are literally tied to a screen,” she says.
Canadian adults are now spending about three-quarters of their time sedentary, according to Mark Tremblay, director of the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group (HALO) at the CHEO Research Institute in Ottawa. A growing body of research suggests that too much sedentary time carries risks—even for those who diligently exercise. In September, Tremblay’s group launched the Sedentary Behaviour Research Network (SBRN) to study the impact of all the time we spend inactive, the dangers of which we’re only starting to understand. Jean-Philippe Chaput, junior research chair at HALO, puts it bluntly: “Independent of physical activity, sitting too much is killing us.”
According to Canadian guidelines, adults should do 150 minutes of moderate or vigorous aerobic physical activity per week, in 10-minute bouts or more. But only 15 per cent of us actually do that much, according to Statistics Canada; among that small group, many would qualify as “active couch potatoes,” who exercise for 30 minutes or so and spend the rest of their time relatively inactive. “A few [recent] studies have suggested that people who sit more die sooner, and have an increased risk of disease,” says Travis Saunders, a Ph.D. candidate at CHEO. “We’ve all been blind to it the past 30 or 40 years, focusing on the importance of physical activity. Sitting was just seen as a lack of activity,” not as an independent risk factor, as it’s now understood.