13 Ways to Beat Obesity Starting Today
A recent post on the Harvard Business Review declared, “sitting is the smoking of our generation.” Writer Nilofer Merchant continued by citing several obesity-related statistics that made thousands of readers pay attention.
“After 1 hour of sitting, the production of enzymes that burn fat declines by as much as 90%. Extended sitting slows the body’s metabolism affecting things like (good cholesterol) HDL levels in our bodies,” she shared. “Research shows that this lack of physical activity is directly tied to 6% of the impact for heart diseases, 7% for type 2 diabetes, and 10% for breast cancer, or colon cancer.”
As if that weren’t enough, Merchant referenced another study that showed “for each additional hour of television a person sat and watched per day, the risk of dying rose by 11%.”
Plus, we learned that at work we average 9.3 hours of sitting a day compared to just 7.7 hours of sleeping. Who knew simply sitting down could be so lethal? If this article sparked your curiosity, here are 13 additional compelling statistics shared from the Surgeon General’s online library.
• An estimated 300,000 deaths per year may be attributable to obesity.
• Even moderate weight excess (10 to 20 pounds for a person of average height) increases the risk of death, particularly among adults aged 30 to 64 years.
• Individuals who are obese (BMI > 30)* have a 50 to 100% increased risk of premature death from all causes, compared to individuals with a healthy weight.
• The incidence of heart disease (heart attack, congestive heart failure, sudden cardiac death, angina or chest pain, and abnormal heart rhythm) is increased in persons who are overweight or obese (BMI > 25).*
• High blood pressure is twice as common in adults who are obese than in those who are at a healthy weight.
• A weight gain of 11 to 18 pounds increases a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes to twice that of individuals who have not gained weight.
• Over 80% of people with diabetes are overweight or obese.
• Overweight and obesity are associated with an increased risk for some types of cancer including endometrial (cancer of the lining of the uterus), colon, gall bladder, prostate, kidney, and postmenopausal breast cancer.
• Women gaining more than 20 pounds from age 18 to midlife double their risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, compared to women whose weight remains stable.
• Sleep apnea (interrupted breathing while sleeping) is more common in obese persons.
• Obesity is associated with a higher prevalence of asthma.
• For every 2-pound increase in weight, the risk of developing arthritis is increased by 9 to 13%.
• Symptoms of arthritis can improve with weight loss.
For Merchant, this knowledge led to a change in behavior. Today, you can find her scheduling walking meetings instead of coffee meetings at work. She averages 20 to 30 miles of walking each week now. She calls this turnaround “life-changing.”
But don’t just take her word for it. The Surgeon General reported that, “Weight loss, as modest as 5 to 15% of total body weight in a person who is overweight or obese, reduces the risk factors for some diseases, particularly heart disease.”
It’s time to take a long, hard look at your everyday activity and see where even small improvements can be made. “Building physical activity back into our daily lives is one of the great public health challenges of this century,” said Russell Pate, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Exercise at the University of South Carolina in an article by the American Heart Association. “Our bodies were designed to be physically active, and they don’t do well with long-term exposure to sedentary living.”
Here are 13 instant ideas to get you started.
Park and walk.
Stop circling the parking lot to find the closest spot. Park in the farthest corner of the bank, grocery store, or library lot.
Take the stairs.
Climbing stairs boosts your heart rate. And while it will leave you huffing and puffing at first, over time it will increase your energy.
Sign up for ballroom lessons, a club Zumba class, or just turn on your favorite tunes in the kitchen. Dancing burns calories and can be a fun and lasting hobby.
Take a few minutes to stretch as soon as you wake up in the morning. Repeat at night before you go to bed.
Play with the kids.
Move the family get-together to the park. Spend the evening playing tag, Frisbee, and pumping your feet on the swings. Release the inner kid.
Build your home gym.
Invest in cardiovascular equipment for your home. A treadmill, stationary bicycle, or elliptical adds variety and convenience to your early morning workout.
Wear a pedometer and get your daily 10,000 steps. Start your morning with a short walk after breakfast to get the count moving early.
Work out while listening to an audiobook. You’ll go farther to hear more of the story, and you’ll look forward to tomorrow’s walk.
Enjoy the seasons.
Start a garden in the spring, wash your car in your driveway in the summer, take a nature hike in the fall, and build a snow fort in the winter.
Ditch the car.
Leave the car at home for trips that are less than a mile or two. Cross something off your to-do list while getting in your physical activity.
Do 8 to 12 push-ups against a wall or at an incline against your desk for muscle strengthening. You can literally do this anywhere.
Walk an extra stop.
During your bus or subway commute, get off a stop or two earlier and briskly walk the rest of the way.
Ask an expert.
Book a personal trainer for a session or two to help you with your weight and resistance training. When you are confident, branch out on your own. Consider starting a home DVD workout collection.