Are you at risk for “sitting disease”?

One expert explains why exercise alone won’t prevent it

Have you heard that “sitting is the new smoking”?

A sedentary lifestyle has been implicated in heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. It’s possible to quit smoking (I know how hard that is – I’ve done it). But how do you quit sitting? That’s hardly practical.

Recent articles about health problems associated with prolonged sitting prompted me to re-read Sitting Kills, Moving Heals by Joan Vernikos, PhD., former Director of NASA’s Life Sciences Division.

After just a few days in space astronauts exhibit symptoms we usually associate with aging: decreased muscle mass and bone density; increased fatigue; slower movement and reaction times; aching joints; slowed metabolism; decreased immune function; disturbances in sleep and balance. Once they resume their normal lives on earth they recover very quickly. Through her studies Vernikos found that immobilization mimics the effects of space travel and concluded it was due to what she calls GDS (gravity deprivation syndrome).

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