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Sitting Is a Silent Killer, Swedish Medics Warn Couch Potatoes

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Michelle Fay Cortez
Bloomberg News
Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Desk jockeys and couch potatoes beware: Too much sitting, and not just a lack of exercise, may cause heart disease and other life-threatening illnesses, according to doctors from the Karolinska Institute and the Swedish School of Sport and Health.

The more time people spend in a completely sedentary state, independent of the exercise they get at other times, the higher their risk of becoming obese, and developing diabetes, heart disease and cancer, the doctors wrote in an editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The dangers are greater still for people who do little exercise as it is, the authors wrote.

Public health officials have designed elaborate programs to encourage people to exercise, recommending a minimum of 2.5 hours of physical activity each week to stay fit and healthy. Individuals should also be encouraged to climb stairs rather than take the elevator, walk to the store, and take regular 5- minute breaks during a working day spent behind a desk, said doctors led by Elin Ekblom-Bak, from Karolinska and the Astrand Laboratory of Work Physiology.

“In the demanding and stressful society of the present, to prescribe these low and minimally time-consuming efforts may encourage many people with problems in maintaining a sufficient level of exercise,” the doctors wrote. “Encouragingly, research has shown that simple forms of prescribing individualized physical activity in clinical practice has had a beneficial impact on exercise level as well as sedentary time.”

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This article was posted: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 10:00 am

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