Sitting for long periods increases health risks

New research has tied long hours at your desk with an increase in health risks. Stand up to save your life

Turns out, an active lifestyle simply isn't enough any longer to live a healthy life. In fact, a new study that surveyed more than 12,000 Australians has found that a person who exercises regularly but tends to sit at a desk or watches TV for six hours or more a day, has a similar health risk to someone who doesn't exercise but also does not watch too much TV.

A brisk walk will do your body and mind a world of good. Besides your health, as you read on the left, here are five other reasons you should get moving.

  • A brisk, morning walk keeps your body and mind active from the get go. It's also a great time to plan the rest of your day.
  • At the end of the day, a leisurely stroll helps digest your dinner, clear your head and let's you breathe some fresh, non-airconditioned air.
  • If you have a dog, not only is a walk a great way to get both of you exercised, it is also a great way to spend quality time bonding with each other.
  • Last but not least, walking is great for the planet, which makes it a win-win for everyone.

So just how bad are the effects that a sedentary lifestyle can have on your health? Here's a hint: very! For every hour you spend sitting down after you get past your 25th birthday, your life expectancy drops by nearly 22 minutes!

This study led by researchers at the University of Queensland seems to match results generated by another one at the University of Leicester in Great Britain. The British project collected and reviewed data from 18 other studies involving nearly 795,000 people. It found that people with highly sedentary lifestyles had a 112 per cent increase in their relative risk of developing diabetes; a 147 per cent increase in their risk for cardiovascular diseases; and a 49 per cent greater risk of dying prematurely. Alarmingly, these risks stayed the same even if the subjects exercised regularly.

It's long been known that sedenatary jobs are detrimental to health but the literally heart-stopping results of these studies shed new light on the risks.

These numbers present enough reasons for you to change your own lifestyle. Walk around as often as you can at work and at home and don't forget to limit TV watching to the bare minimum. Start walking to the grocery store and sneak in a relaxed after-dinner stroll. Some cardio or weight-training exercise can't hurt either.

Chips Ahoy!
Potato chips are truly yingyang when it comes to your body. They definitely taste great but they also silently work to clog up your arteries and add inches to your waistline.

Listen To this Carefully

Listening to music is a pleasure. Don't make it a health hazard with these safety tips.
  • Keep the volume at 70 percent. Don't listen to music for more than four hours. If you must wear them longer, lower the volume.
  • Buy noise-cancelling headphones so you don't have to turn up the volume.
  • On flights, be sure to remove your headphones during take-offs and landings. This is so you can hear the stewards in an emergency.
  • Never use headphones while cycling or driving. At higher speeds, you need all the reaction time you can get. Headphones reduce situational awareness and won't allow you time to react.
  • If you're running or walking, you should be able to hear footsteps of people around you through the music. They may be trying to warn you.

Here are a few healthier alternatives to the old fried potato chip and, as a bonus, we've even added a few healthy seasoning and dipping suggestions.

For best results, use a kitchen tool called a mandoline to help slice your vegetables thinly and evenly. It's also safer to use than a knife and a great time saver. Once sliced, layer your chips in single layers on a baking tray. This ensures that they heat up and cook evenly.

Beetroots: These go well with feta or goat cheese. Heat an oven to 175C and bake for 30 minutes

Sweet potatoes: They taste great with everything from olive oil to crushed garlic or just salt. Bake for 25 minutes at 200C

Radishes are best when in season. Pair with garlic or pepper. Bake at 175C for 25 minutes.

Apples: These fruits are super healthy and taste fantastic with a dash of cinamon or allspice. Bake the slices at 100 celsius for about 50 minutes.

Bananas: This old favourite goes well with nutmeg or yogurt mixed with honey. Brush with lemon juice to avoid browning and bake for 90 minutes at 90C.

Pressure on the brain

Turns out, high blood pressure not only damages your heart, it may even damage your brain. Scientists at the University of California, Davis, found that higher systolic pressure not only hits the structural integrity of the brain but also affects its volume of grey matter.

By age 40, they found, the brain of a person with a blood pressure of 140/90 would appear 7 years older than someone whose BP was normal. What's worse, the kind of deterioration the scientists observed is similar not to those in their 60s and 70s but those who are still in their 30s and 40s. The message then from this study is clear. Keep you pressure in check. And watch that salt shaker!