Get Up and Add Years to Your Life: Setting a Good Example for Our Patients

A sedentary lifestyle can not only impact your quality of life but can shorten it as well. Americans have moved from the rural areas and the farm to urban environments, which are accompanied by prolonged sitting. Sitting for long periods leads to clogging of the blood vessels, heart disease, kidney disease, and even early demise. A simple solution is to get off of the chair and move around even if you have a sedentary job and lifestyle. This blog will review the evidence for more exercise and less sitting down. 
A study from the British Journal of Medicine points out that the population life expectancy in the U.S. would be 2 years higher if adults reduced their time spent sitting to less than 3 hours a day, and 1.38 years higher if they reduced television viewing to less than 2 hours a day. Cutting time spent sitting down could increase life expectancy by up to 2 years, a life table analysis showed.1
Limiting time watching television to less than 2 hours a day added 1.38 years of life, and cutting total sitting time to less than 3 hours a day increased life expectancy by 2 full years.

They noted, however, a number of mechanisms that could explain the association of sedentary behaviors and mortality, including increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. I also think it is possible that it is very easy to down a few beers and a bag of potato chips or a pint of ice cream while watching television for 3 hours a day. You all know what that kind of nutrition can lead to. Diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and obesity, all of which lead to increased time in the doctor’s office and in the hospital with a shortened life expectancy.

Bottom line: Doctors need to walk the talk and start walking the walk—get up and get moving. We need to set and example and get up off the sofa at the end of the day, turn off the television and turn the couch potato into a fit, healthy, and energetic care provider. 

Neil Baum, MD

Neil Baum, MD, is Clinical Associate Professor of Urology, Tulane Medical School, New Orleans, LA, and author of Marketing Your Clinical Practice: Ethically, Effectively, and Economically, Jones Bartlett Publishers.