|Maine School Kids Bouncing in their 'Chairs' to Fight Obesity|
|01/04/2013 Reported By: Jennifer Mitchell|
A recent economic analysis run by the University of Maine found that obese youth could cost the state $1.2 billion over the next 20 years. Factor in adults who are currently obese and the number skyrockets. The obesity epidemic is being addressed on the diet and exercise fronts, including getting people to take a stand - literally. According to experts, modern Americans spend almost 10 hours sitting down each day. They sit on their commutes to work, spend eight hours sitting behind a desk - and then go home to sit on the couch. But now, some schools and hospitals are taking steps to combat Maine's love affair with the chair.
Mrs. Robin Norsworthy's class at Zippel Elementary School in Presque Isle on their fitness balls.
"This is an ergonomic work station whereby the employee can either sit, or the employee can stand and do their work. And what we'd like the employee to do is sit and stand throughout the day so they're not sitting 7 1/2 hours, on average, like most employees," says therapist Sarah Knowland.
Knowland is demonstrating one of the non-traditional desks installed at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor through its Wellness program. Not surprisingly, hospitals are often at the forefront of health trends, and this is no exception. Where people once worked hard, physical hours - slaving over laundry tubs and hoeing gardens that would feed a whole family - today people work just as much, but the strain is of a different kind. Debi McCann heads the hospital's wellness program.
"The latest research is indicating anybody who sits for longer than six hours a day significantly increases their risk of death and disease," says Debi McCann, who heads the hospital's wellness program.
This could include anything from neck pain and back pain, to potentially deadly blood clots, to actually changing how the body metabolizes fats and sugars. Prolonged sitting has also been linked to bone depletion and osteoporosis.
And that's not all: According to a study conducted last year by Northwestern University, trying to make up for a day of sitting with a big burst of exercise at the end of the day doesn't reduce the risk factors at all. Rather, the study concluded that people need to use their bodies continuously throughout the day.
That means popping up and down periodically from your chair - if you have one - sitting up straight to use core muscles, taking a walk around the office, and even wiggling about and fidgeting more.
I'm not surprised that it is better to move continuously throughout the day rather than only once for an extended period of time. However, I also think the whole bouncy chair thing is somewhat silly. Perhaps it works, to some extent, but I concur more with the statement at the end - people should stretch and walk more. This is probably better than simply bouncing up and down while sitting down. I also think that the bouncy chairs could make kids think that it is ok not to get up at all if exercise can be done in the chair. Parents would have to make sure their kids haven't developed this kind of mindset, but, then again, many parents have trouble making their kids exercise in the first place. Question: Is the same true for people who bike extensively? Should they occasionally stretch, too? Feel free to comment.