Healthy Choices

August 01, 2009

Sitting May Be Hazardous to Your Health

We sit while eating in the morning, in our cars going to work and most of the day at work or school. We sit coming home in the car at night, and sit in the evening watching TV, playing computer games or surfing the Internet.

Researchers have found that people who sit at least half the time during the day have a significantly increased risk of dying from any cause. In the 12-year study, people who sat almost all the time had a 54 percent increased risk of dying compared to people who sat almost none of the time. This increased risk was independent of age, smoking, alcohol use, weight and even exercise frequency.

How much do you sit during a typical day? Take this simple self-assessment to see if you are sitting too much:

Eat for Your Health

Pile on the vegetables — served raw, baked, steamed or sautéed.

Eat fruit every day — fresh, frozen, dried or cooked. Add pear slices, mandarin wedges, dried cranberries, or apple chunks to garden salads. Mix berries into yogurt. Slice bananas onto whole-grain breakfast cereals.

Choose whole grains — for maximum vitamins, minerals and protein. Replace white breads (including tortillas) with whole-grain versions. Try brown long-grain or short-grain rice, quinoa or amaranth in place of white rice.

Bring on the beans — legumes, including lentils and chickpeas (garbanzos), are a great substitute for meat and an excellent source of protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Eat nuts — snack on pistachios or pecans, sprinkle slivered almonds over vegetables, and top salads with walnuts. They are calorie-dense, so limit yourself to a handful a day.

Use healthy fats — such as olive, canola and soy oils, in place of butter and stick margarines. For omega-3s, eat flaxseed meal or walnuts.

Drink to your health — aim for six glasses of water daily — more when it's hot or when exercising. And for special occasions, choose 100 percent fruit juice.

Spice up your meals — in place of salt, season your foods with garlic, onion, thyme, oregano, basil, cayenne, curry and other herbs.

Eat slowly — diet matters, but a leisurely pace of life also matters. Eating on the run and under stress can cause heartburn, poor absorption of nutrients and obesity.