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By Karen Alexander, Oncology Wellness Specialist


The Benefits of Walking and Staying Active

According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week, and should perform muscle-strengthening exercises at least 2 days a week. Youths between ages 6 and 17 years need at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, including aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening activities.

Although the total amount of physical activity per week matters, recent studies have shown that sitting for long periods of time can negatively impact the benefits of your weekly exercise. According to a study published in late 2017, sitting for excessively long periods of time is a risk factor for early death.

The study analyzed the sedentary behaviors of 7,985 black and white adults aged 45 years or older. Sedentary time was measured using a hip-mounted accelerometer and prolonged, uninterrupted sedentariness was expressed as “mean sedentary bout length”. After 4 years, 340 participants died. Results showed that greater total sedentary time and longer mean sedentary bout length were both associated with a higher risk for mortality.

The study found that those who regularly sat for longer than 90 minutes at a time had nearly two times greater risk of death than those who sat for less than 90 minutes at a time. People who usually only sat for less than 30 minutes at a time had a 55% lower risk of death, compared to those who sat for longer than 30 minutes at a time.

In fact, participants classified as “high” for both sedentary characteristics (high sedentary time [≥12.5 h/d] and high bout duration [≥10 min/bout]) had the greatest risk of death. Researchers concluded that both the total volume of sedentary time and its accrual in prolonged, uninterrupted bouts are associated with all-cause mortality. This suggests that the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans should focus on reducing and interrupting sedentary time in order to reduce risk of death.

Walking is an inexpensive physical activity that you can do almost anywhere. All you need is a pair of good tennis shoes! Walking is great for improving your mood, balance and coordination. It helps you to maintain your weight, strengthen your bones and muscles, and prevent or manage various conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and Type 2 Diabetes.

At Ackerman Cancer Center we have a voluntary Wellness Program to encourage our associates to stay active and achieve 100,000 steps in a 2-week period. We are all encouraged to take short breaks to get up and move – this not only reduces the health risks of sitting for too long at a time, and improves our mood at work!

Quote of the Day: “You are only one workout away from a good mood”.

Have a wonderful weekend,

Karen Alexander, BSND, MSCN

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