Is being a couch potato as unhealthy as smoking?

Health officials say it's time to get up and move for your own good.

Fred Bodimer
April 02, 2019 - 5:17 am

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — New research adds to the growing evidence that getting up and moving is a critical component of a healthy lifestyle.
Some experts have called a sedentary lifestyle the new smoking.  And a new report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine seems to bolster that idea.  

The study found for those who get the least amount of physical activity, replacing a half hour of sitting time with even just light physical activity was associated with a nearly 50-percent reduction in the chance of a premature death.  

"It is definitely a huge risk factor for folks," said Dr. Jennifer Wessels, a family medicine physician and Vice President of Medical Affairs for the SSM Health Medical Group. "Being sedentary really increases your risk of obesity, heart disease and high blood pressure.  It also really decreases the strength of your muscles.  As people get older, they are far more at risk for falls and other injuries because they're just not as strong as their counterparts who are able to exercise and be more active."

So what should we be doing to be more active?

"The goal really should be to keep moving or break a sweat at least once a day," said Dr. Wessels.  "Even moderate exercise is good.  About thirty minutes a day can really help boost your activity level.  Try walking more, climbing the stairs instead of taking an elevator.  Small changes like that can make a big impact."

Another simple suggestion is to park at the far end of the parking lot when going shopping to increase your steps.