The Dangers of Sitting

Sitting-DiseaseDid you know that sitting too much is bad for you? Of course you do. But how much is too much and what happens when we let ourselves sit for about eight hours per day? Turns out, it’s a pretty serious health risk when we sit for too long.

Here are the top 10 reasons why we need to get up and get moving:

  1. Heart Disease. Muscles burn less fat and blood flows turns sluggish during a long sit. That means, fatty acids can clog your heart.
  2. Colon Cancer. Studies have linked sitting to a greater risk for colon, breast and endometrial cancers. The reason is unclear, but one theory is that excess insulin encourages cell growth.
  3. Mushy Abs. When you stand, move, or even sit up straight, abdominal muscles keep you upright.
  4. Tight Hips. Flexible hips help keep you balanced, but chronic sitters rarely extend the hip flexor muscles in front that they become short and tight, limiting range of motion and stride length.
  5. Limp Glutes. Sitting requires your glutes to do absolutely nothing and they get used to it.  Enough said.
  6. Foggy Brain. Moving muscles pump fresh blood and oxygen through the brain and trigger the release of all sorts of brain-and mood-enhancing chemicals. When we sit for a long time, everything slows, including brain function.
  7. Sore Shoulders and Back. The neck doesn’t slouch alone. Slumping forward overextends the shoulder and back muscles as well, particular the trapexius, which connects the neck and shoulders.
  8. Inflexible Spine. When we move around, soft disc between vertebrae expand and contract like sponges, soaking up fresh blood and nutrients. But when we sit for a long time, discs are squashed unevenly.
  9. Poor Circulation in Legs. Sitting for long periods of time slows blood and circulation, which causes fluid to pool in the legs. Problems range from swollen ankles and varicose veins to dangerous blood clots.
  10. Soft bones. Weight-bearing activities such as walking and running stimulate hip and lower-body bones to grow thicker, denser and stronger.

Click here for more information on how to get moving throughout the day.

Hiking…A Healthy Goal I Can Keep

We scored a great guest blog post from one of our employees, Kathy. Like most of us, Kathy has gone down the “new year’s resolution = frustration” route. But after taking a new approach, it looks like she found a winner. Here’s her story:

Hiking Boots

The boots that started it all

For Christmas, I got a new pair of hiking boots. I eagerly put them on—a great match with my red and white penguin Christmas pajamas. I tromped around the house, looking forward to the summer months when I could put them to good use.

When Christmas was over, I placed the boots back in their box and shoved them under the bed. And there they sat. And there I sat, until, while watching one of those crazy infomercials for the latest and greatest exercise program, a thought came to me—I didn’t need to wait until good weather to go hiking! I immediately got up, pulled my boots out from under the bed, and slipped them on. I tromped back into the living room and declared to Brian (the love of my life), that next weekend, on our first planned getaway of the year, we were going to stop at Silver Falls to go hiking. Stunned, he reached out and put his hand to my forehead, to see if I was feeling okay.

Silver FallsThe following Saturday morning, we arrived at Silver Falls (if you haven’t been to Oregon, Silver Falls is a state park in riddled with trails and waterfalls). It was a frosty thirty two degrees, but with new boots, a warm wool hat and mittens, my resolve remained unshaken. And my reward was worth it! Six miles and 8 waterfalls later, I felt invigorated—and well yes, a little sore for being woefully out of shape—but great nonetheless. As we were driving away, still high from the endorphins pumping through my system, I said to Brian, “Let’s make it a goal to do one hike a month—it’s a no brainer! it’s something we enjoy, we get to explore new places, and it’s healthy!”

And that’s how my 2014 healthy goal was born—doing something I love, with people I love. How hard is that? Hike one—check!

Cervical Cancer: The Most Preventable Female Cancer

Cervical Health Awareness Month - Get regular Pap tests.January is Cervical Health Awareness month and we’re encouraging women to learn how they can protect themselves from HPV (human papillomavirus) and cervical cancer.  Did you know that about 79 million Americans currently have HPV, the most commonly sexually transmitted disease? Did you also know that HPV is a major cause of cervical cancer?

Now, the good news:

  • HPV can be prevented by the HPV vaccine.
  • Cervical cancer is preventable with regular screening tests (called Pap tests) and follow-up care.

To protect yourself from HPV and Cervical Cancer, the National Cervical Cancer Coalition has issued the following recommendations:

  • Women to start getting regular Pap tests at age 21
  • Women to get the HPV vaccine before age 27
  • Parents to make sure their pre-teens get the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12
  • Men to get the HPV vaccine if you are under age 22

With most insurance plans, these services are absolutely free with any plan. Check with your insurance plan to make sure.

Taking small steps can help keep you safe and healthy.  Click here to learn how you protect yourself from HPV and Cervical Cancer or talk to your healthcare provider today.  Because, your health matters.