Abi Dhabi, UAE: Sitting for long hours in front of your computer is putting you at risk of cardiovascular disease and death, according to health experts.
Even if you hit the gym before or after work, you cannot undo the effects of sitting all day.
“Nobody is protected against sitting. People who are not sitting a lot are better off than those who don’t walk much through the day,” said Dr Corina Weber, internal medicine specialist at Brightpoint Royal Women’s Hospital, Abu Dhabi.
“The best would be to move about at work and also outside work. Sitting increases mortality risk despite exercise. With moderate physical activity and a sedentary job, your risk will increase. Have an active lifestyle throughout the day. We are not born like plants, but like animals, and we should move.”
In January, the medical journal, Annals of Internal Medicine published a study called Sedentary Time and its Association With Risk for Disease Incidence, Mortality and Hospitalisation in Adults, which suggested a high correlation between sitting still and risk of disease.
Nadine Aoun, a dietician at Medcare Hospital in Dubai, said: “Having a sedentary life increases risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. The person’s metabolism also goes down. The person feels hungry and tends to snack more. They tend to eat whatever is easily available, mostly unhealthy, and thus high blood sugar is another risk. I ask patients to work out and be active.
“People are not aware of the impact of a sedentary life on their health.”
She said people should take a break every 30 minutes. “I tell them to take a walk every half hour or do squats, or walk to get a glass of water,” she said.
Taking 10,000 steps each day is a reasonable goal, said Roisin Thomas, an instructor at Haddins Gym, Abu Dhabi. “Use every opportunity to walk. Don’t think about it just in terms of burning calories, but overall health.”
On Abu Dhabi’s Corniche yesterday, people were out keeping fit. Rocky Johnson, 61, a school adviser from the United States, had taken up The National’s Start Walking challenge and equipped himself with a clip-on Fitbit. He has been taking an average of 15,000 steps every day.
“I watch my diet and try to exercise. There are many factors that motivate me, including the fact that I want to lose weight and strengthen my heart and lungs,” he said.
Bashayer Abdullah, 19, an Emirati student, said: “I try to do small things to keep active; try to limit eating junk food. I do squats or jog on the spot.”
Leila Luqman, a 19-year-old student, said: “I do try to walk around, although not as much as I would like to and when I go to the gym I usually hit the treadmill.”
© The NationalMar 2015