Speed Reads

your couch will be the end of you

Get moving: Doctor warns we are 'sitting ourselves to death'

In words that will strike fear in the heart of lazy people everywhere, Dr. James Levine says that sitting around could be worse for your health than smoking.

In his new book Get Up!, the director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative writes that people lose two hours of life for every hour spent sitting. He says it's not hard to get moving, and even taking a short walk after dinner is better than doing nothing. "On one hand, the good news is that this is incredibly easy," he told the Los Angeles Times. For those that are tied to their computers for eight hours a day, though, "it's incredibly difficult."

In his book, Levine talks about nonexercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT. This is the energy expenditure of an activity that isn't a sport, like going for a walk or shoveling snow. Someone with a job that keeps them moving and active uses more NEAT calories, and "low NEAT is linked to weight gain, diabetes, heart attacks, and cancer." He thinks employers are starting to understand that their workers can't be sitting down all day, and that soon they'll learn "you will make money if your workforce gets up and gets moving. Your kids will get better grades if they get up and get moving. The science is not refuted."

Until everyone is free to frolic all day, the most important thing they can do is get up whenever they are able. "Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting," Levine said. "We are sitting ourselves to death."