Sedentary behavior, aka office work and couch time at home, has once again been proven to be a major health risk factor. A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine pooled information from 41 international studies and found that a much higher risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and death coincided relationally to the amount of time a person sits during the day regardless of  regular exercise regimes.

Sitting Kills

Sitting Kills


The study found prolonged sedentary behavior bumped the risk of death from all causes by 15-20%. Previous Australian studies found a 46% increase in mortality risk it should be noted. Whatever number one chooses to believe it is apparent that sitting kills millions way before their time.

Increased risks of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and a host of other diseases normally affiliated with obesity are emerging as effects of sedentary lifestyles.

Dr. David Alter, a senior researcher at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute who led the study summarized its findings concisely, “Our study finds that despite the health-enhancing benefits of physical activity, this alone may not be enough to reduce the risk for disease."

The study was unable to quantify how much sitting time is too much however TrekDesk has reported on many studies that show that the negative effects of sitting initiate in as little as 20-30 minutes. The good news is that this can be counter-acted simply by standing, stretching and moving for a minimum of 5 minutes on the half hour.


 Re –Designing Behavior


The conclusion from this study and others reported previously on the TrekDesk site is that individuals need to re-think how they spend their day. While many are forced to sit in an office cubicle, a simple 5 minute break of movement on the half hour could assist in decreasing their health risks.

Obviously a treadmill desk is our preferred answer to the dilemma, allowing workers to stay in motion and/or upright while they perform their office duties during the day.  TrekDesk allows individuals to get the movement they need and automatically displaces the potential for extended periods of sedentary time.  A body in motion tends to stay in motion as any TrekDesk users will relate.

Couch time at home also needs to be addressed as well.  Standing and stretching during television commercial times or using technology to remind ourselves to get up and move on a regular basis are excellent solutions.


Many of us believe that aging is a natural progression and that there is little that can be done about its degenerative effects. Science is disputing this and showing that if there ever was a fountain of youth it exists in our feet, as long as we move them anyway. A new study out of Emory University added its results among the volumes of studies that point toward the age slowing properties of exercise.

Machelle Pardue, Eric Lawson and Jeffrey Boatright PhD’s at the Atlanta VA Center for Visual and Neurocognitive Rehabilitation experimented with the effect of exercise on the vision of mice and made some astounding discoveries.

Their research found that simple exercise, in this case mice on a treadmill (beginning to see a pattern in our reports?), assisted in the preservation of photoreceptors and retinal cell function in the mice proving a direct positive effect on their vision and overall retinal health.



Vision Dependent Upon Movement

The mice trained for an hour per day throughout their “work week” for a total period of two weeks. They were then exposed to what is termed “toxic bright light”, commonly used to instigate retinal degeneration in experiments. One group was then given two more weeks of the exercise regimen. The exercise advantaged mice had twice as many of the photoreceptor cells as their unexercised counterparts at the end of the experiment. 

The more active group of mice also exhibited higher levels of BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor) an important health and growth promoting protein along with a greater responsiveness to light.

According to the researchers, individuals at risk for macular degeneration or illustrating early signs of the disease may mitigate the negative effects with through moderate exercise such as walking.


In case you are in the “that is mice but what about people camp” this study coincides well with findings previously reported in the TrekDesk Research section regarding a University of Wisconsin study of 1,300 Women’s Health Initiative participants. The Wisconsin study found a 54% lower risk of macular degeneration in women that were active and a 71% decreased risk if they were active and ate a well balanced, healthy diet.

Still not convinced? Exercise was also shown to reduce the risk of age related macular degeneration (ARMD) by 70% in a study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

The message is clear but it is growing more crystalline by the day: The body craves movement for optimal health.



Americans love shortcuts, quick fixes and short sound bites in every aspect of our lives. Nowhere is this more evident than in the health and diet industry where billions are spent needlessly appealing to this potentially damaging “flaw” in our national personality. But who can blame us? We live in an emerging high tech, fast paced world where instant gratification and information surrounds us. In the back of our heads though, there is a consistent refrain, embedded from our parent’s generation, that causes self loathing and guilt at our inability to regain control over our health. 

Fountain Youth Walking

“There’s no quick fix”, “no pain-no gain”, “a moment on the lips a lifetime on the hips”- these messages linger in the back or our minds causing stress and feelings of inadequacy for not living up to the countless regimens of new diet and exercise plans that have witnessed the fattening of America over the past few decades.


But what if there really was a short cut? What if there was a quick fix that could re-invigorate the health of the nation? 


Better yet, what if it was free?


Well, please pay attention - because yes America there is a short cut to better health, weight loss and longevity and it doesn’t cost a dime. 




Step One. Get off of the coach and out of the chair as much as possible during the day. Especially immediately following meal times.


Let’s focus on this part first since it is such a challenge to most Americans. We will need to break it down to environments at work, at home and in-between.


Home: For most Americans their sanctuary is a den of inactivity with a couch and entertainment system that beckons them to stay put for endless hours. There are numerous studies showing that watching television shortens lifespan, one study in fact computed that after the age of 25 every hour of television watching shortened lifespan by 21.8 minutes. That’s a pretty sobering statistic but not enough to keep most of us from binge watching episodes of Breaking Bad. 


So, where is the shortcut or quick fix that eradicates this problem? 


Turns out, it is as easy as standing up and moving slowly in place or around the living room for five minutes every quarter hour or so. TV isn’t killing us - inactivity is. More on this later.


Office: Eight to ten hours a day perched in an office chair is also a dead certain prescription for ill health and a shortened lifespan, even for those that ran five miles in the morning or hit the gym for an hour before heading to work. Just four hours of sitting equated to an 80% greater risk of death from cardiovascular disease and a 46% increased risk of mortality from all diseases.


Standing and moving as much as possible is the answer again for this challenge as well. Standing desks, treadmill desks , and desk modifications that promote standing have burst onto the scene in the past five years to break the syndrome of “cubicle captivity” that threatens the health of a majority of Americans.


In-Between: Now that there are solutions for home and office inactivity Americans need to be educated further about the in-between hours which for many involve long commutes in excess of 90 minutes to and from work. A recent study warned of the physical and mental hazards posed by long commutes and suggested walking and cycling as better alternatives. 


Great advice but for most Americans impractical if not impossible. There was a silver lining to the study that showed mass transit as a healthier alternative due to more opportunities for social interaction, less stress, and greater opportunity for mobility. Car pooling (though not ideal), buses, train, subways etc. all were favored over the single car commute.


Step Two: Stay in motion for a 30 minute minimum following any meal. Many may remember their grandparents recommending a walk after a meal. What many do not realize is that there is some solid science behind the advice. 


Studies by Dr. Marc Hamilton of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at LSU brought to light the importance of an enzyme known as lipoprotein lipase. Without getting too technical lipase serves as a traffic cop for calories and routes them to either adipose tissue (fat cells) or muscle tissue. If you remain seated after a meal lipase production is virtually non-existent in your cells however getting up and doing the dishes, household chores or taking a walk activate lipase within the body and insure that your meal goes more towards a potential muscle pump than to one’s rump.


Step Three: Remain Diligent -Your Body is Listening - Remain active as much as possible during the day because your body is like the Alice Kravitz of neighbors. It’s always watching, always listening. If you are sedentary it is going to alert the most important cells in your body, your T-Cells. 


Our cells are constantly being replaced, on average every 3 months. Think of it as the new you every quarter. How much you move (or sit), what you eat, what you drink is monitored by your body. Why should you care? If you are sitting too much your body translates this as an urgent call to conserve calories and races to produce more fat cells to assist in the endeavor. Basically immobility is interpreted as a danger after millions of years of evolution. If we weren’t moving we were either under attack, injured, sick or lacked energy due to insufficient food supplies. Today, this immobility translates to the production of as much as 50% more fat cells ready to assist in the storing of extra calories.


Those going to the gym, jogging, exercising with weights, yoga and Pilates but not losing excess weight need to take a more honest look at how often during the day they are sedentary. 


Your Life(Span) Depends On It: A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine and written about by Gretchen Reynolds in the NY Times focused on the impact of sitting and exercise on people’s telomeres. Telomeres are the end pieces capping DNA strands which are known to shorten and unravel as we age. Telomere health is critical to long term health and longevity. 


Swedish researches analyzed the impact of sitting and exercise on a group of overweight, sedentary men and women (aged 68) by first cataloguing the length and health of their telomeres. One group was then assigned a moderate exercise regime and asked to sit less. The control group was urged to lose weight and be healthy without any more specific guidelines. 


At the end of six months they were analyzed for telomere health and questioned as to their activity levels. The researchers found that the telomeres of individuals who sat the least had actually lengthened; tantamount to actual age reversal- in effect, their cells grew younger.


Exercise surprisingly showed little correlation to changes in telomere length. Those who loathe exercise may take solace in the fact that telomere length actually shortened and frayed more among those that exercised more than test subjects that simply sat less. 


What’s the take away? Stay up, stay busy at a moderate level and odds are you will live a healthier, happier, longer life.

Summary:   Physical activity is shown once again to delay the effects of aging in a new study.

Now that the Boomer generation has reached the elderly stage in America’s demographic there has been an increased interest in supplements, medications and strategies to delay aging. A recent study published in the September issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons adds to an ever increasing body of evidence in favor of one strategy proven to slow the aging process: Exercise.

The study bears out the importance of staying active from as early an age as possible and its positive impact on improving musculoskeletal and overall health. "An increasing amount of evidence demonstrates that we can modulate age-related decline in the musculoskeletal system," stated orthopaedic surgeon Bryan G. Vopat, MD  of Brown University and lead study author. "A lot of the deterioration we see with aging can be attributed to a more sedentary lifestyle instead of aging itself."

The study, focused on senior athletes aged 65 and up, found that the often assumed inevitability of age related body deterioration can be successfully combated through healthy fitness and dietary regimes.

“A lot of the aches, pains and loss of mobility that are normally ascribed to aging are directly attributed to sedentary lifestyles and an overall pattern of inactivity from an early age,” stated Steve Bordley, CEO of TrekDesk Treadmill Desk. “More and more studies are proving that the onset of old age does not have to be met with extreme loss of physical capacities as long as an individual is willing pursue a healthy life style.”

The early an individual starts their health campaign the easier their transition into the golden years is going to be however it is never to late to start. One challenge for many Americans is the amount of sedentary time built into their daily lives. Inactivity can unravel the health benefits of exercise in very short order. Previous studies have estimated that for every hour sitting it unravels 8 minutes of the day’s exercise. In effect an 8 hour day at the office would negate a 64 minute visit to the gym that day.

The study recommends staying physically active beyond the normally prescibed minimum levels of 150 minutes per week to maintain bone density, ligament/tendon capacity, muscle mass and a healthy volume of cartilage; all necessary to maintaining health as we age. 


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