HEALTH

Extended sitting causes health risks, doctors suggest more movement

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For Dr. Ted Eytan, "working meetings" and "working out" seem to be one in the same. The way he pulls it off is one you might not have immediately thought about.

"A lot of us have been raised to believe we should sit in a room and look at each other for an hour," Dr. Eytan said. "I pretty much won't do a meeting unless I can do it on foot."

Eytan isn't alone in wanting to get more active rather than sitting at a desk all day; in fact, studies show that it greatly improves your health. According to a recent one by the American Cancer Society, sitting for more than six hours per day increases a person's premature death risk by as much as 40 percent. It also may increase the risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and cancer.

That's why Dr. Eytan wears a pedometer to reach the recommended 10,000 daily steps, and most of it comes from holding meetings on the move with colleagues.

"I pretty much won't do a meeting unless I can do it on foot," he said. "I say, 'Get your walking shoes, because we're going for a walk.'"

Dr. Eytan is in good company. The late co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, would regularly hold walking meetings. The reasons to do so are plentiful; research shows it makes you feel mentally sharper, physically fitter, and doctors say that prolonged sitting can be as bad for your overall health as smoking because your body simply shuts down.

"If you start to look at the health risks...if you sit all day, it really is (as bad) as a pack and a half of cigarettes," Dr. David Agus, an oncologist, said. Dr. J. Leonard Lichtenfeld backed that up in a blog on Cancer.org, saying that going to the gym doesn't necessarily affect the harmful effects of extended sitting.

Instead, doctors say you should move around at least once per hour.

"It's not a matter of having to get up and doing extended exercise," Dr. Eytan said. "It's simply standing up and moving around a little bit."

The good news is that you don't even need to get into a routine to make a big change.

"You should...find a colleague that you have a meeting scheduled with and say, 'Let's walk tomorrow,'" Dr. Eytan said.

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