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