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Dr. Allen S. Weiss

Chief Medical Officer

Sitting is now recognized as the newest cancer-causing behavior. Fifty percent of people sit 75% of the time. Well known causes of cancer include tobacco, obesity, processed meats, air pollution, excess alcohol, and some chemicals.

Sitting can increase your risk of cancer by up to 66% according to a 2014 study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute of more than 44,000 people. Colon Cancer increased 24%, endometrial cancer 32%, and lung cancer 21% in people who were more likely to be sedentary.

Unfortunately, vigorous exercise a few times per week or even daily doesn’t seem to overcome the negative effect of sitting for prolonged periods of time. Please don’t misunderstand—vigorous exercise is still healthy for you in many ways including avoiding heart disease, lowering sugar and fats in your blood, and diminishing stress.

TV watching is particularly noxious because the activity or rather, lack of activity, can be associated with drinking sugared soda, eating processed foods, and gaining weight. For every two hours of additional sitting, colon cancer rose by 8% and endometrial cancer increased by 10%.

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Screen time of all types has increased for all generations. As adults we have become tethered to our computers, which traditionally call for sitting. For the past few years standing desks, which are probably much healthier but take time adjusting to particularly for those used to sitting, have entered the office space.

Children nowadays, in general, sit more than ever. Getting out of the house with physical activity helps develop lifelong habits, thus avoiding becoming too sedate during the aging process.

What can we do in our everyday lives? Taking a break every hour to walk around, stretch, or perhaps socialize will not only lower your cancer risk but also increase your overall productivity. Studies have shown that taking a five-minute break hourly over a six-hour work day is much better than one 30-minute break at the end of the day.

If possible, get away from your desk or workplace to get some fresh air at lunch. Connecting with the environment is always positive. At home, doing chores—such as cleaning up after dinner or sorting laundry—while standing can significantly lower your sitting time.

Moving naturally, a Blue Zones Project Principle, is at the top of the pyramid. Perhaps those who have lived well and stayed healthy to 100 knew something that modern medical science is now rediscovering. Stop reading this piece, get up, and start moving.

Blue Zones Project is a community-led well-being initiative designed to make healthy choices easier through improvements to a city’s environment, policies, and social networks. Blue Zones Project is brought to Dodge County through sponsorship by Beaver Dam Community Hospitals a member of Marshfield Clinic Health Systems, in collaboration with Sharecare, Inc. and Blue Zones, LLC. Dodge County is the first Blue Zones Project demonstration site in the state. For more information, email bluezonesprojectdodgecounty@bdch.org or visit bluezonesproject.com.

Blue Zones Project is a community-led well-being initiative designed to make healthy choices easier through improvements to a city’s environment, policies, and social networks. Blue Zones Project is brought to Dodge County through sponsorship by Beaver Dam Community Hospitals a member of Marshfield Clinic Health Systems, in collaboration with Sharecare, Inc. and Blue Zones, LLC. Dodge County is the first Blue Zones Project demonstration site in the state. For more information, email bluezonesprojectdodgecounty@bdch.org or visit bluezonesproject.com.

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