Stand up and live (longer)!

Get off your butt and move!

As if you needed more proof, a new study published this week in BMJ Open tells us that reducing sedentary behavior (i.e., ‘sitting on your butt’) can improve life expectancy. Here are the details:

  • You can live almost 1.4 years longer if your reduce TV watching to under 2 hours per day
  • You stand (pun intended) to live 2 years longer if you reduce your average sitting time to less than 3 hours per day.

Not so easy to do, you say? Come on, the TV watching should be an easy one. Less than 2 hours? You can do that. I’m not going to even provide tips for that one.

Reducing your sedentary time to less than 3 hours per day might be a harder task, especially for those who work at a desk or in other sedentary jobs. Interestingly, today’s jobs require far less physical activity than in the past.

Not only that, people who sit for prolonged periods of time without breaks at work (or for that matter, at home watching TV) have a higher risk of being overweight, having worse cholesterol levels, and developing heart disease.


So what can you do about it?

1. Just do it! – Get up and move frequently. If you typically sit for prolonged periods at work, just get up and stretch, walk around, whatever, and do it frequently. Set an alarm if you have to. Just get up. Prolonged periods of sitting are just plain bad. And that’s even true for people who engage in regular physical activity.

2. Monitor your activity levels – How do you do that, you ask? Well, one of the best ways to get motivated to make real lifestyle changes is to start tracking your behavior. You would be surprised how effective it is to just know how many steps you’re walking or how many miles you’re running or how many calories you are eating in a day.

One way to do this is to buy an activity tracking device, such as fitbit or fitbug. These small strap-on devices monitor your steps and link wirelessly to an on-line platform where you can follow your progress. Some programs also have on-line motivational tools and health coaching. Hugely motivating! Just try it out.

3. Turn off the TV – Look, I love watching infinite re-runs of Law and Order and Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives just like the rest of you. But more than 2 hours? You can do it. Just turn the thing off.

These are just a few ideas. You no doubt have others. Do what works for you. Just do something.

It would be great to get those 2 extra years of life, wouldn’t it?

Just getting up and moving = fountain of life!



(Credits: Infographics adapted from

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