Sit and be fit? No such luck

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When I was a kid back in my Midwestern farming town of Decatur, Ill., there were times in the summer when I was home from school, bored and would spend way too much time channel surfing on our very large, console TV.

With remote in hand I would work my way through reruns of “Green Acres,” “The Brady Bunch,” “Gilligan’s Island” and many others. But every once in awhile our local PBS channel would air a program called “Sit and Be Fit.”

You might share this memory with me. The scene was always the same. A nice-looking older woman with short curly hair, cute little shorts, and shiny skin colored tights would welcome you to a 30 minute exercise session including lots of stretching, some toning with an exercise band and a huge dose of kind words and encouragement.

She was like the spunky grandma you always wanted. Her name is Mary Ann Wilson and over the past 26 years has led the fitness industry in the healthy aging movement.

Her gentle exercises for older adults and those less conditioned have earned her numerous awards and recognition. In fact, “Sit and Be Fit” is one of the longest running exercise programs on record.

Imagine then, how the most recent research on something we do everyday must fall on the ears of the “Sit and Be Fit” community. The most dangerous thing we do, say researchers, is sit.

According to the article, Sitting is a Death Trap, in the January 2013 issue of the IDEA Fitness Journal, sitting is killing us.

Statistics showed:

Sitting too long can cause nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Prolonged sitting is a risk factor for all-cause mortality, independent of physical activity.

The longer you sit, the higher your risk of certain types of cancer.

If you sit for more than three hours each day, your risk for kidney disease increases.

Sitting more than six hours a day raises your risk of death, even if you work out! Female exercisers who sit this much may be 37 percent more likely to die over 14 years than those who sit less than three hours a day.

Every hour you sit in front of the TV, your life expectancy is slashed by 22 minutes. Watching TV for six hours a day takes five years off your life.

Interrupting long periods of sitting with two-minute breaks of light to moderate-intensity activity — such as walking — helps control glucose and insulin levels.

Well, I guess it’s not enough to Sit and Be Fit. We’re actually going to have to get up and move. All for the better. Below is a list of my own reasons to get up and get moving.

My kids are watching. If I want them to be healthy and active, I must model this lifestyle.

I can think more clearly when I’m moving.

Face to face conversations are way better than picking up the phone and calling to the office beside me. The communication is clearer and relationships are built.

I refuse to die young because I was too lazy to get up and change the channel.

My dog needs the walk.

The world is beautiful and most parts of it I can’t see from a car.

So as much as you are able, get up, get moving, and keep on living.

Leslie Snyder is group exercise director and personal trainer at the Walla Walla YMCA. She is an NCCA ACE certified personal trainer, health coach, and group exercise instructor and has worked in the fitness industry for the last 20 years.

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