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posted: 3/12/2012 5:00 AM

Your health: Don't just sit there

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  • It might not be practical to stand at your desk and do work, but it is healthy to get up and move around as often as possible.

    It might not be practical to stand at your desk and do work, but it is healthy to get up and move around as often as possible.

  • Understanding asthma is the first step in managing the disease for your own quality of life.

    Understanding asthma is the first step in managing the disease for your own quality of life.

  • Elderly people have the least trouble sleeping at night compared to young people. Caffeine any time during the day can affect sleep patterns.

    Elderly people have the least trouble sleeping at night compared to young people. Caffeine any time during the day can affect sleep patterns.

 

Stand, don't sit

If sitting is the new smoking, as one researcher recently put it, what can we do about it?

Very few of us can afford to quit work, where we sit eight or 10 hours a day, cold turkey. And there is no patch to slap on our expanding midsections in the hope of gradually reducing our dependence on chairs, says The Washington Post.

Many experts believe the problem must be addressed in the workplace, and a number of entrepreneurs are marketing devices designed to foster movement at the office.

Don't expect them to replace your cubicle anytime soon, but products like the treadmill desk, bike desk and standing desk could start popping up as more people become familiar with the dangers of sitting all day. The point here is, get up and move during your day.

Asthma assistance

Millions of people struggle with asthma, and though it can't be cured, pediatrician and allergist Stephen Apaliski provides seven principles to help control it in his book "Beating Asthma."

Start by understanding the problem:

"Asthma is a chronic disease of the lungs that involves tightening of the muscles that surround the airways or breathing tubes in the lungs," he writes. "Excess mucus is produced in those who have asthma, and the airways themselves become inflamed."

Apaliski's other principles include prevention (avoiding such common irritants as dust, animals and perfumes); getting pulmonary function tests; using drugs properly; planning ahead (keeping inhalers or medications on hand); building a close patient-physician relationship; and creating a positive mindset to stick with new treatments and stay calm during an attack.

Sleep studies

Last week was National Sleep Awareness Week, a good time to look at some related research that has been released lately.

The Washington Post reports that the National Sleep Foundation just came out with the results of its annual poll on the nation's sleep habits. This year's survey focused on transportation workers.

Among the key findings: "11 percent of pilots, train operators, bus, taxi and limo drivers, and 8 percent of truck drivers, as well as 7 percent of non-transportation workers are 'sleepy.'"

Older people, it turns out, get plenty of sleep. Contrary to anecdotal reports, a study published in the journal Sleep says that older people actually have more satisfactory sleep than young adults do.

Research in the journal Sleep Medicine found that caffeine affects night owls and early birds differently. Among the 50 college students who participated, those who were morning people were more likely to have their night's sleep disrupted by consuming caffeine during the day. Those who were night owls could consume caffeine without waking up during the night.

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