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Planning Retirement Online

Six activities that could shorten your life

An Australian study has come up with six deadly sins.

These are not a shortened version of those original seven deadly sins, but are activities that could actually take years off your life.

The study was completed by scientists based at the University of Sydney and examined in detail specific patterns of risk associated with lifestyle behaviours.

The researched showed that the following were high risk factors in shortening a person’s life:

Higher levels of alcohol consumption
Poor diet
Sedentary (sitting) lifestyle
Too little or too much sleep.

It is the last two that are of special interest as most people today are aware of the risk factors of alcohol, poor food, inactivity and smoking.

But even if you exercise morning and night, according the research if you sit all day for more than seven hours, this can have a seriously detrimental effect on your health. Add to that sleeping for more than nine hours and you have the potential of causing real damage.

The study was based on 230,000 people over a six year period, so was no light weight report. It followed findings from three years ago that showed that people who sat for more than 11 hours a day had a 40% increase in risk of dying over the next three years. This study took into account how healthy they were as well as their levels of physical activity and their weight.

It seems that as soon as you sit down, the electrical activity in your muscles slows down and your calorie burning rate can drop to a third of the normal rate when walking.  Within five days of a sedentary lifestyle, your body increases plasma triglycerides (fatty molecules), bad LDL cholesterol and insulin resistance. This means your muscles aren’t taking in their usual levels of fat and your blood sugar levels can go up. After two weeks of very sedentary lifestyle, your muscles can start to atrophy and your maximum oxygen consumption drops.

If you sit for more than six hours for a year or more, studies in women suggest you can lose up to one per cent of bone mass a year and other general deterioration also takes place.

The good news is that we can counteract this with two simple things:

  1. Get up and stand and walk around once every hour
  2. Try and take at least half an hour’s exercise or at least activity a day.

More good news is that it now seems you can break up this half hour’s activity into smaller pockets, perhaps three ten minute segments.

If through work or health or other reasons, you have a sedentary lifestyle, you will need to set an alarm to get out of the habit. Start by setting it every hour and make sure you stand up, walk around for a couple of minutes  or do what you can to gain movement.

Soon it will become a habit. Add to that that half hour’s exercise, making it a fairly vigorous activity if you can such as fast walking, and you will have gone a long way to keeping healthier for longer.

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