Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Even small breaks are good

A study out this month in the journal Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention reviewed the literature on sedentary behavior and cancer. Ten of the 18 studies included in the review found a significant positive association between sedentary behavior and cancer risk - specifically cancers of the colorectum, endometrium, ovaries and prostate. Sedentary behavior isn't just a lack of physical activity - it is prolonged sitting or reclining. Someone can meet the physical activity guidelines of 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each day (e.g., a brisk 30 minute walk) and still be quite sedentary if s/he spends the rest of the day sitting.

This is why more and more public health advocates are touting the value of lifestyle activity - the movement associated with daily living. And some, like Dr. Toni Yancey, are taking it a step further and advocating we build purposeful movement focused breaks into our workplaces. In today's Personal Health column, Jane Brody highlights Dr. Yancey's efforts and her new book "Instant Recess". In her book, Dr. Yancey suggests building two 10-minute breaks of a fun group activity into the work day. These kind of programs have proven successful in the business world at improving the health of employees and at improving productivity. Similar programs in schools have been shown to improve learning.

The value of these recess/activity breaks at reducing cancer risk has yet to be shown, but with so many other positive outcomes - most notably feeling better, they seem like a great idea and one CNiC can definitely get behind!

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