Being a couch potato can kill you – but you might be able to wiggle your way out of trouble 12



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Next time you go to sit down, take a second to think about what you’re doing. Put simply – it could be killing you. Scientists have discovered spending too many hours sitting increases the risk of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Yes, you’ve got that right, “non-alcoholic fatty liver disease”, which we will call NAFLD for short because the full name is just too much of a mouthful. It seems you can stuff your liver even without trying. You don’t have to drink excessive glasses of vino, just park your butt on the lounge for too long.

The researchers studied a group of 139,056 men and women over a period of time. This included health checks, monitoring assorted physical tasks and food and physical-activity questionnaires. Those who spent more than five hours a day sitting showed a nine per cent risk of developing NAFLD compared to people who sat less than five hours a day. Exercise also played a part in reducing risk. Surprisingly, even those with a normal-range body mass index were at higher risk, so being thin doesn’t give you a free get-out-of-jail card.

They worked out that those who sat for more than five hours a day could increase their risk of cancer by up to 66 per cent.

Study co-author Dr Yoosoo Chang said the findings suggested increasing participation in physical activity and reducing sitting time might be independently important in reducing the risk of NAFLD.

The findings were released in the Korean Journal of Hepatology.

Before you rush to jump off the lounge, take heart: there may be a simple way to lessen the risk, which doesn’t even require you to get up.

Another UK study found fidgeting can offset the unhealthy effects of sitting for long periods and could even help you live longer.

Professor Janet Cade said while further research is needed, the findings raise questions about whether the negative associations with fidgeting, such as rudeness or lack of concentration, should persist if such simple movements are beneficial for our health.

Those findings were published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

So, next time you do go to sit down, start fidgeting – and ignore anyone who tries to stop you!

How many hours do you sit a day? Come on, fess up! Add it up – it could be longer than you think.

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. So I have got a bit of wriggle room. For a minute there I thought I was going to have to give up Facebook. Shock Horror!

  2. I am stuffed then as I sit for longer than that at work!

    1 REPLY
    • Me too. An entire life time – from the first day of school to the last day at work last year – sitting at a desk. Even at this minute – still sitting at a desk. We’re definitely stuffed.

  3. What is an office worker? I was an “Office Worker” but then for most of my working life I spent 60% of my time in one-on-one roll plays with all levels of staff to know “what was really going on” with the systems. So I worked by walking around.

    I remember getting home one day feeling rather knackered and worked out I had walked 15 kilometres that day and had only sat down for less than 2 hours driving to and from work and having lunch.

    Do I sit down too long now? Probably. However, I rarely watch live TV as I record what I believe I want to watch and watch it later. So there is a lot of fast forward or pausing when I think “that’s interesting, I’ll do a quick search for more info” and go off to consult the ether via FRED.

    Later today I will finish the conversion to a new fly tying bench/station where I will stand while I tie my flies. A standup PC station is next.

    How long will this last? Dammed if I know. I could become a couch potato. Enjoy the waffle. 😉

  4. I do what my body tells me to do, when I am tired I sit, when my energy level is high enough, I do gardening & go for a walk & what ever else I have to do. At 72 yrs of age I please myself, and I say everything in moderation is the key.

    1 REPLY
    • Agree Heather. I am 71 and don’t plan changing on changing now.

  5. Inactivity is a challenge for older folks; however is
    it is distressing to see how we’ve failed to provide education for decades about the dangers of obesity and many other food and lifestyle choices that impact their liver health.

    Many individuals grow up with the mentality that their bodies are invincible. In reality, their body and especially their liver, needs them to know how to protect it from liver rreated diseases through the use of alcohol, drugs, unhealthy food and lifestyle choices.

    Providing the rationale for changing behaviors is missing. Preventative education starting at an early age, is essential to bringing liver related diseases under control.

    Unfortunately, because the liver is a non-complaining organ most Americans are unaware of the liver and the miracles it performs 24/7. They are clueless about the devastating impact their unhealthy food and lifestyle choices can have on this life sustaining organ.

    The liver has zillions of liver cells serving as the body’s micro-chips, converting food into hundreds of essential body functions including producing energy, immune factors, digestive juices (bile), clotting factors, excretion of toxins (alcohol, drugs, pollutants), control of cholesterol and hundreds more. Liver cells are the employees in your personal chemical refinery.

    Making healthy food and lifestyle choices, including limited use of fats, sugar, carbs, alcohol, plus daily exercise will help keep liver cells healthy and your body in good shape. Ask your healthcare provider to check the status of your silent partner, your liver. It could save your life.
    If any of this information has been helpful to you, please share it with family, friends, and especially teachers.

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