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Sedentary behavior costs you all the time

“This person sees more money in a day than any bank teller,” John Robinson, the safety coordinator of Brigh Wood Corp., shared with me on a recent tour of the cut plant. John was giving me a lesson in both the manufacturing process and the proven measures the company had employed to create a safe working environment.

The person watching the money roll by was the rip sawyer, whose job entailed grading lumber as it rolled on a chain, deftly flipping the board assessing where best to make the initial cuts. He flipped boards with the dexterity of a surgeon, while doing an industrial version of the two-step across the work space with the spring of a barefoot runner.

John mentioned an 85-90 percent reduction in time lost due to injuries over the last 20 years. The reduction suggested exceptional accomplishment in a largely manufacturing line of work, where repetitive stress and trauma injuries pose significant risk. The rip sawyer plying his trade with skill, effectiveness and biomechanical efficiency spoke to a quality scene.

But a far greater danger lurks in the American workplace. Sitting or sedentary behavior is being compared to smoking for the many negative consequences to our health and wellness.

Sitting on the job or at home for extended periods of time significantly increases risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. A few numbers to consider about increased cancer risk: extended time sitting increases risk of getting colorectal cancer by 78 percent, ovarian cancer by 66 percent, prostate cancer 39 percent and endometrial cancer risk by 34 percent, according to published research.

A recent attention-grabbing bit of research out of the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center indicates that time spent sitting makes a significant dent in the benefits of a workout. An hour spent sitting cancels out about 8 percent of the gain from vigorous exercise and 16 percent for moderate exercise, according to the research published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings and replayed across the social media spectrum.

In round numbers, six hours of sitting will reduce the benefits of vigorous exercise (running) by half. The first 30 minutes of that hour-long evening run is the time penalty for six hours of sitting, worse than a barrel racer hitting all three barrels.

Breaking up the time spent sitting with mini exercise sessions, sit to stand desks, walking meetings are some of the tools to promote wellness in the workplace and home.

An exercise routine might include mini squats, heel raises, scissor kicks and gentle range of motion for three-five minutes for every 30-40 minutes spent sitting.

For a functional movement experience try this: scoot to the edge of your chair, flex forward through the hips with a strong and stable spine, activate the buttock and thigh muscles and lift out of the chair as if pooping in the woods.

Doing this exercise well means feeling the muscular work and fatigue in the quads, glutes and spine. Try maintaining the position as you check the day’s emails.

Doing nothing has real risk and simple measures produce great gain. Try making some changes today.



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