Have errands to run? Great, they save your life!

If you save your life with errands, you can then eat 5 servings of pasta!

You have to go to the post office.

Pick your kids up from school.

Grocery-shop at the super-market.

And then you have to cook dinner…

Ok you’d like to cook dinner…if only you didn’t have to chase your kids from one room to another!

You are tired.

But, there is good news.

Chores, running errands, and chasing your kids save your life!

According to the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, it is striking that the vast majority of daily nonsleeping time is spent in either sedentary behavior (58%) or light-intensity activity (eg, strolling, washing dishes, and gardening) (39%) and only 3% in health-enhancing physical activity time.

Because time spent on health-enhancing physical activity is just 3%, most variance in sitting time comes from sitting time displacing light-intensity activity. In other words, you sit when you are not running errands, or doing chores, or even enjoying a walk with friends or chasing your kids around.

Thus, if you have no errands to run, or no chores to do…you will probably end up sitting (even) more.

And too much sitting…kills. It is correlated with…Increased mortality (e.g., heart attack risk increase of 54%)…This includes sitting when watching TV, time spent in cars, and daily total sitting.

If you want to save your life, you have to decrease sitting time and increase exercise or light-activity time.

The more chores, the better! hehe

But you exercising…

Well done! Only that exercising is such a small percentage of daily time…While sitting takes up 58% of your day…You are still accumulating too many sitting hours.

Or, maybe your are not exercising…

Cool, but that does not mean that you cannot be more active and sit less!

According to this study on energy expenditure, an office worker that returns home at 5pm…:

  • And sits on the couch watching TV until 11 pm, will need 30 kcal to maintain his weight. [Half an orange is about 30 kcal.]
  • If instead of watching TV, he stands up and takes the weeds out of the garden, and paints a room, his energy needs will increase from 30 kcal to 750-1125 kcal.

Thus, the same office worker will need 1000 kcal more if he choses to do chores in the evening.

Apart from decreasing his heart attack risk, he will also be able to eat 5 servings of pasta (= 1000 kcal), or 1 big piece of cheesecake without gaining any extra weight!!

(You guessed it right – I can eat almost unlimited amount of pasta, and I love cheesecakes)

Ok, ok he can skip the unhealthy food and nurture himself him with something healthy like broccoli. He will need about 2.5 kg of broccoli to reach 1000 kcal!!!!!

The anti-sitting challenge: Replace sitting with light activity once a day.

Here are a few “save your life” ideas:

  1. Stand up/Walk while talking on the phone.
  2. Walk to your coworker rather than e-mailing them.
  3. At work, go to a bathroom that is more far away.
  4. Stand up and stretch during TV commercials.
  5. Do a chore on foot rather than by car.
  6. Take the stairs rather than the elevator.
  7. Use the Office Exercise and Stretch app and take more frequent, active breaks when at work.

Just pick ONE of those ideas and start applying it immediately! You are helping yourself be more active, sit less, and live longer!

P.S. Want to measure how you are doing? According to this study, every minute of sedentary behavior replaced with light activity would expend 1 additional kilocalorie (calculated for a person weighing 72 kg). Thus, if you, e.g., stand up for 10 minutes while you are on the phone, then you get 10 extra kcal lost. Fyi, 3500 kcal = 1 pound.

Photo credits: pasta – www.justgrobio.com ; half orange – jeroen bennink

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