Veterans, did you know sitting is the new smoking?

12/18/2016

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Recent Department of Defense statistics show 7.8% of active military members—roughly one in every 13—are clinically overweight with a body mass-index of 25 or higher. That’s an increase from 1.6% in 2001. While the reasons for this aren’t clear, they may be related to Mayo Clinic research that indicates sitting is now a greater health risk to Americans than smoking.

Studies show sitting 6 hours a day or more (average American sits 9 hours) contributes significantly to major health risks including obesity, high blood pressure and blood sugar, arthritis, and unhealthy cholesterol levels. Too much sitting in front of a TV, computer or behind the wheel also increases risk of death from heart disease and cancer. Unfortunately, a few hours a week at the gym or doing moderate to vigorous physical activity doesn’t offset the risk.

But fortunately, there is a solution that’s simple and affordable: Sit less, move more. Here are 10 “sit less” tips for the holidays and beyond.

  1. If you sit at a desk, take breaks to stretch or walk.
  2. Use the stairs instead of the elevator.
  3. Park at the far end of the parking lot instead of close to the door.
  4. Stand while talking on the phone, eating lunch or watching TV.
  5. Work at a standing desk, high table or counter top.
  6. Instead of calling a co-worker or sending an email, walk to the person’s office to talk.
  7. Hold meetings as you walk laps, instead of at a table in the conference room.
  8. Be an inefficient shopper; park the shopping cart, then make multiple trips to bring items back to it.
  9. On a long drive, get out and stretch, jog in place or do jumping jacks.
  10. Set goals and wear an activity tracker to monitor your progress.

The release of statistics about overweight troops comes at a time when top Pentagon health officials are rewriting force wide guidelines for body composition standards and evaluation methods. For individual soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, a diagnosis of obesity can stall a career or lead to involuntary separation, so the weight issue is central to military life—your life.

Many USBA life insurance plans offer rates—Standard, Preferred, and Non-Tobacco User—structured to encourage a healthy lifestyle. Find more information here.

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