Feingold: We're all sitting ducks for poor health

Dr. Murray Feingold

What is it we do about 50 to 70 percent of the day that has been shown to be hazardous to our health?

The answer - sitting.

With the advent of computers and watching television becoming an important part of our leisure activity, more people are now sitting than ever before.

A recent report combined 18 research studies that included 795,000 people concerning the effect that sitting has on our health. Because so many people sit, the results of this study are troubling. The results showed that people who sit for long periods of time have a twofold increase in developing diabetes, heart disease and death.

Another disturbing factor was the high rates did not decrease even if individuals who sat for long periods of time also participated in moderate to vigorous physical activity.

Because of the nature of various jobs people have today, many are sitting for long periods of time in front of their computers. Sitting is also required in non-computer related jobs such as traveling sales people who travel in their cars or airplanes, cab drivers, bus drivers, pilots and many other sedentary type jobs.

Another study researched the association between the number of hours spent watching television and deaths due to heart disease. Results showed a relationship between watching television and an increased death rate and cardiovascular disease.

The researchers recommended strongly that people find ways to decrease their sitting time. Decreasing the time watching television is an obvious suggestion.

For those who find it essential to use their computers, they should place their computers in a position that requires them to stand when using the computer, at least periodically.

If you attend a lot of meetings, stand during these sessions. If you really want to watch television at home, don’t sit while doing so.

The take-home message is that we sit too much and it can affect our health. So, make a greater effort to decrease your sitting time and increase your standing time.

Dr. Murray Feingold is the physician in chief of The Feingold Center for Children, medical editor of WBZ-TV and WBZ radio, and president of the Genesis Fund. The Genesis Fund is a nonprofit organization that funds the care of children born with birth defects, mental retardation and genetic diseases.