Thursday, March 31, 2016

Is sitting the "smoking" of the millennial generation?

Is sitting the "smoking" of the millennial generation?

I must admit when I first read this line I thought, wait a minute, sitting is everybody’s smoking/problem. 
Then I considered what the author had to say: “Sitting is so prevalent and so pervasive that we don’t even question how much we’re doing it. And, everyone else is doing it also, so it doesn’t even occur to us that it’s not okay. In that way, I’ve come to see that sitting is the smoking of our generation” (Nilofer Merchant in Harvard Business Review, January 14, 2013)

Good point, I thought. We have been sitting on the job and during our time off / entertainment activities for so long that it is the norm. 

So, now what? Now that the problem has been identified, can we change our collective behavior? How long will it take? Can it be changed in millennials’ lifetime?

Consider smoking itself. There was a time when smoking was so pervasive no one thought about it. Then the health problem was identified and anti-smoking efforts launched. Smoking was reduced to 15% of Americans now from 46% then. How long did it take? Try 50 years from the Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking detailing the problem in 1963. That’s two and a half generations gone by to change a collective behavior.

Things get murkier when we have to actually take action to improve health. Dr. Kenneth Cooper’s research in 1979 demonstrated the health improving implications of moderate exercise. Almost 2 generations later and 20% of Americans participate in exercise the recommended 45 minutes three times a week. 

Then again Pilates, yoga, reflexology and massage—body improving endeavors all—have grown to be industries. 

Eating patterns have changed. Processed foods and breakfast cereals are losing out to fresh foods and less carbohydrate-fueled breakfasts. Many take vitamins and shop natural food stores.

It’s just this bite-sized approach that gives us a chance to change sitting habits. It’s standing up as a nutrient with moving an even more nutritious piece of health. No sweating it out after a drive to the gym.

Can we do it? Can the collective we get motivated to give our bodies what they need to be healthy? 

So, millennials, the ball is in your court. How will you deal with the "smoking" of your generation?

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Dementia Prevention: Un-sit Your Life

Dementia Prevention: Un-sit Your Life

Into dementia prevention? Move more, build a better brain. We think of it as un-sitting your life.

Moving more at any age impacts cognitive abilities. It’s never too early to start your campaign to prevent dementia. And, it’s never too late to do something about your cognitive concerns. 

Especially if Alzheimer’s, the most serious form of dementia, runs in your family, you’ll want to consider dementia prevention. Heredity is considered to be 46% of the risk for Alzheimer’s.

Un-sit your life by sitting smart and sitting less.

  • Sit smart. Don’t just sit there, rock. Rocking sends more blood to your brain feeding it more nutrients. Also, rocking helps build walking speed, linked by research to dementia. The slower an individual’s walking speed, the more increase in potential for and degree of dementia. 
How much and how often? Rock 15 minutes twice a day.

  • Consider your television watching time. Those who don’t exercise and whose primary recreational activity from ages 40 to 59 was television watching increased their risk for Alzheimer’s by 250%.
How much and how often? Keep track of your television time and look at adding activity to your life. (See below.)

  • Take breaks from sitting. This will improve your blood sugar level. Elevated blood sugar appears to play a role in the risk for dementia. Those with diabetes are twice as likely to develop dementia. Even for those who do not have diabetes, risk for dementia rises for those with elevated blood sugar levels.
How much and how often? If you’ve sat an hour, you’ve sat too long. Ideally, take a break from sitting every 20 minutes.

  • Substitute some of your sitting time with up and about time to help manage your weight. Those who sit more have a greater risk for weight gain. Obesity in middle age is a risk factor for cognitive decline. Those who are over weight at the age of 50 with two metabolic abnormalities (abnormal levels of cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, triglycerides) experience a more rapid cognitive decline.
How much and how often? Those with weight problems sit two hours more than those who have a normal weight. Start gradually and build your up and about time.

Add some activity to your life.
• A 2% growth in the part of the brain responsible for memory occurred for adults who walked three times a week for 30 minutes to 45 minutes for a year.
• Moderate exercise (brisk walking, aerobics, yoga, strength training or swimming) is linked with a reduction in cognitive impairment. A 39% reduction was seen or those who exercise in their 40’s and a 32% reduction for later in life. 
• Older adults (average age 75) who were more active, resulting in burning an additional 1,000 calories a day, “were 91% less likely to experience declines in memory, concentration and language abilities after five years.” 
• Among the elderly, those who are the least physically active during the day are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Even for the elderly "activities like cooking, washing the dishes, playing cards and even moving a wheelchair with a person's arms were beneficial,"