In Germany, the health of the whole population is at its lowest in history, according to a new report that found just under nine percent of the population follow a ‘completely healthy’ lifestyle. And the problem is a lack of movement which could be deadly. On average, Germans spend 7.5 hours sitting per day (whether at work or in front of the TV). Without exercise to balance it out, researchers warn a sedentary lifestyle could lead to serious health issues. But it’s not just them who are leading sedentary lives – the world over, people are spending too much time perched on their behinds.
The study,(www.ergo.com ) looked at the health habits of people in Germany in five key areas, including activity level, diet, alcohol and tobacco consumption, as well as stress levels. The study also questioned people about their noise sensitivity and feelings of loneliness.
After surveying over 2,800 people across the country, researchers found that people in Germany sit around 7.5 hours during a normal workday — 30 minutes more than in 2016, when the last DKV report was published.
The longest time people sat uninterrupted was in front of the television (around 120 minutes per day) followed by work, where people reported sitting for around 90 minutes without moving.
Researchers have cautioned about the dangers of physical inactivity, with the World Health Organization saying it’s the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality.
Ingo Froböse, a professor at the German Sport University Cologne who headed the DKV study, told DW (www.dw.com )that prolonged periods of inactivity can lead to serious health issues, including low blood pressure, poor circulation through vital organs and cell atrophy.
“Long-term sitting becomes a problem for every single cell in the body,” he warned.
According to the WHO, whose benchmarks were used in the study, adults should do least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity — but a majority of Germans are falling short.
Only 43 percent of the 2,800 people questioned for the study were found to move enough in their daily lives. In 2010, when the DKV study began, that figure was 60 percent.
“I’ve been very worried about the health habits of Germans for some time,” Froböse told DW. “Unfortunately, it continues to get worse.”
Researchers also found a discrepancy between how people view their health and their actual practices.
Out of the respondents, 61 percent said they believed their health to be “good” or “very good.”
However, only a fraction of the participants actually displayed fully healthy habits. Just 9 percent fulfilled the minimum requirements in the five key areas investigated.
The figure was a new low in the history of the study, which has been conducted five times in the past eight years.
Froböse said the issue doesn’t lie in education, but rather people’s perception of their health.
“Many people don’t notice their health, only when there is an illness,” he said. “We are apparently wonderful avoiders of reality.”
Getting creative to boost movement
Prior research has shown that in order to overcome the poor health effects caused by sitting and prolonged periods of inactivity, a high amount of exercise is required in order to balance out the effects — an amount of exercise that is out of reach for many.
However, starting small and changing the approach to working in today’s digital age can also help forestall the dangers of sitting.
For those looking to add more movement into their daily routine, Froböse said people don’t have to look too hard to find possibilities to break up long periods of sitting.
“There are so many options for moving in daily life,” he said.
He recommended making telephone calls while standing up, taking the stairs, walking over to discuss something with a co-worker instead of sending an email, or going on a stroll during lunch.
While commuting, Froböse said getting off the train or bus one stop early and walking the rest of the way to work can also make a difference.
Report says: lack of exercise could be deadlier than obesity
Researchers have found that high levels of inactivity could be the culprit behind hundreds of thousands of deaths across Europe every year. The figures are double those caused by obesity, they say.
The study of 334,161 European men and women entailed researchers measuring their height, weight and waist circumference, and self-assessed levels of physical activity between 1992 and 2,000. Participants in the study were analyzed over a period of 12 years, during which time 21,438 of them died.
Their study also estimated that inactivity had caused roughly 676,000 of the 9.2 million annual deaths in Europe, or twice the rate of deaths caused by obesity. According to the university’s press release, those numbers were based on recently collected data.
Physical inactivity is often linked with obesity, which has been also been associated with an increased risk of early death, as well as greater risks of heart disease and cancer.
However the new research carried out by the University of Cambridge’s MRC Epidemiology Unit shows that people of any weight or Body Mass Index (BMI) can benefit from increased physical activity.
“This is a simple message: just a small amount of physical activity each day could have substantial health benefits for people who are physically inactive. Although we found that just 20 minutes would make a difference, we should really be looking to do more than this – physical activity has many proven health benefits and should be an important part of our daily life,” said Professor Ulf Ekelund who led the study.
Obesity considered a disability, EU court rules
The EU’s top court has ruled that obesity can be considered a disability, under the bloc’s employment laws. Its judgment dealt with the case of a Danish childminder who claimed he was fired for being obese.
The court was asked to make a finding in the case of a Danish childminder, Karsten Kaltoft, who was sacked from his job after 15 years in November 2010. Kaltoft weighed at least 160 kilograms (352 pounds) throughout the time he was employed.
The local municipality that employed him denies dismissing him over his weight, saying there was a fall in the number of children that needed care.
Kaltoft and his union disagreed, taking the case to a Danish court, which asked the EU Court of Justice for clarification. Specifically, it wanted to know if EU law prohibits discrimination on the grounds of obesity.
The court noted that while no principle of EU law itself prevents this – and that the law should not be extended to cover it – the condition was a disability if it is a “long-term” limitation that stopped a person from working “on an equal basis with other workers.”
“The Court finds that if, under given circumstances, the obesity of the worker entails a limitation which results in particular from physical, mental or psychological impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder the full and effective participation of that person in professional life on an equal basis with other workers, and the limitation is a long-term one, such obesity can fall within the concept of ‘disability’ within the meaning of the directive.”
The ruling means that in certain cases, obese workers in the EU can seek workplace protection under the bloc’s anti-discrimination laws.
The case now goes back to Denmark for the national court to decide whether Kaltoft’s obesity can be considered a disability.
jr/mg (dpa, Reuters)
The link between cash, obesity and cancer
A global study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer suggests obesity leads to cancer – to the tune of half a million cases per year. IARC’s Dr Melina Arnold explained it to DW (www.dw.com ).
„We know, for example, that in males in very highly developed countries, there’s about 3-3.2 percent of all cancer cases that are related to obesity and being overweight. And in low-developed countries we see it’s close to zero – it’s about 0.3 percent – that was our estimate for the low human development index (HDI).We estimated this new proportion of cancer cases linked to high body weight for every country in the world, and for males and females. And we see that for males, for example, there’s a really high burden in Czech Republic, where 5.5 percent of the country’s new cancer cases have been linked to high body weight. And in females this was very high in Barbados, and also in Czech Republic, where we have about 12 percent of all new cancer cases in females being due to overweight and obesity. So females have a higher proportion of cancer cases.
Dr. Arnold continues: The underlying mechanism differs a lot by cancer type. We know for breast cancer, for example, that one of the pathways is related to hormones that are produced by fat tissue and that can lead to cancer development. But this is the hormonal pathway, which is true for several cancer sites. For others, there are other underlying mechanisms for how obesity is linked to cancer.
It is true that women are more affected, but that doesn’t mean that men are not affected. They are affected, and there’s a substantial number of new cancer cases in men that are related to being overweight, and obesity. It’s just that common cancer sites in women, such as breast cancer and also cancer of the womb, have been linked to excess body weight. And because those are frequent cancers in most parts of the world, the proportion of cases of excess body weight in women is higher than in men. So I think prevention needs to take place for both sexes, and the strategies need to take place on the three levels – at the individual level, at the societal level, and also at the industrial level. So we need to raise awareness for everyone.
On the societal level, individual responsibility can only have its full effect when people have access to a healthy lifestyle, and so the societal level is important to support individuals in following the recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) – to limit energy intake through fat and sugar, to increase consumption of fruit and vegetables, and to engage in regular physical activity. We need to create the environment to enable people to actually follow these recommendations. And we need sustained political commitment and the collaboration of many public and private stakeholders to make regular physical activity and healthy dietary choices available, and affordable, and especially accessible for the poorest individuals in society.
Well, what we’re talking about here is the so-called lag time, which is the time between having a high body weight and developing cancer. It wouldn’t occur tomorrow if you start being overweight today. So we will only know the full extent of the obesity-related cancer burden 10-20 years from now. Even if the average body-mass index (BMI) is… leveling off in some high-income countries in recent years, it is steeply increasing in the developing world, so we expect increases in the cancer cases that are related to this only in the future. So this is only the beginning.
Dr. Melina Arnold is a postdoctoral fellow at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France. She is a co-lead author of the study “Global burden of cancer attributable to high body-mass index in 2012: a population-based study” published in The Lancet Oncology.
At what time of day are our bodies ready to exercise?
Because they sit at desks all day, many office workers have to exercise in the early morning or late evening. But when is it best to work out? The answer: listen to your body’s internal clock.
Our internal circadian biological clock regulates our body’s functions, including our readiness to exercise. In principle, you can exercise early in the morning, but because not all body systems are up and running at full capacity yet, there are better times of day. Mornings are generally ideal for endurance sports such as running, aerobics and spinning, provided you haven’t eaten too much for breakfast. You shouldn’t exercise on an empty stomach either, however. Around noon, the body needs at least two hours of rest to digest food. The hours between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. are a good time to work out, because our body systems are working at full capacity. Dr. Ingo Froböse says that’s when physical exercise feels easier and we can work out more intensely. Afternoons are best for weight training, as well as high intensity and technically skilled endurance sports such as tennis and martial arts. Early evening is also a good time to exercise, until around 8 p.m., when our performance capacity slowly drops.
Foot exercises on the go
These days people don’t move much when they travel. Hours of sitting in cars, buses or airplanes can lead to a leaden feeling in your legs, caused by the blood flow slowing down considerably.
That’s why it’s important to take steps to avoid thrombosis. In addition to wearing compression stockings, there are simple exercises that will keep the blood in your legs flowing properly. And they’re easy to perform in your seat without attracting attention from other passengers. It helps just to alternate raising and lowering your toes and heels. It’s also helpful to raise yourself off the seat. Grab the armrests with both hands and push yourself upwards – without standing up – so you’re not touching the seat. As soon as you sit down again, place your feet flat on the floor, parallel to each other, and firmly press your thighs together several times. It’s most effective if you repeat the exercises several times and if possible, try walking a few steps once an hour.
47 Sports and leisure
Are you active? Do you do like sports? Learn how to talk about exercise.
die Freizeit – spare time
Was machst du in deiner Freizeit? – What do you do in your spare time?
Ich mache Sport. – I work out.
Ich spiele Fußball. – I play soccer.
Ich tanze gern. – I like dancing.
Ich gehe spazieren. – I walk.
Ich gehe joggen. – I jog.
Ich gehe schwimmen. – I swim.
Ich gehe klettern. – I go climbing.
Ich gehe wandern. – I hike.
Ich fahre gern Fahrrad. – I like bike riding.
Ich gehe ins Fitnessstudio. – I go to the gym.
Ich schwimme gern. – I like swimming.
Ich fahre gerne Ski. – I like skiing.
Kommst du mit? – Do you want to come along?
Inactivity puts adults worldwide at risk of disease
More than 1.4 billion adults across the world have an increased risk of disease because they are not exercising enough, the World Health Organization reports in a new study.
There has been no improvement in levels of physical activity among men and women for 15 years. In 2016, more than a quarter of adults across the world did not exercise sufficiently, according to a study conducted by researchers from the World Health Organization (WHO), published today in The Lancet Global Health journal.
The recommended amount of moderate physical activity is 150 minutes a week. In 2016, around 32 percent of women and 23 percent of men — that’s one in three women and one in four men — did not reach that goal. This puts a quarter of the world’s adult population at risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia and cancer.
Approximately 1.9 million people from 168 countries participated in the survey based on self-reported activity levels. These included activity at work, home, during leisure time and for transport. It is the first study to estimate the global trends in physical activity.
Wealthier countries increasingly inactive
The study, conducted between 2001 and 2016, shows that inactivity levels are more than twice as high in wealthier countries compared to countries with lower incomes. In high-income regions inactivity levels even increased by five percent.
Countries at the forefront of insufficient physical activity include Germany, New Zealand, the United States, the UK, Argentina, and Brazil. In the U.S. about 40 percent of adults were insufficiently active, in the United Kingdom it was 36 percent. Overall, inactivity in Western countries increased from 31 percent in 2001 to 37 percent in 2016.
The skyrocketing inactivity in wealthier countries can be explained with the fact that many people lead increasingly stationary lives, in which occupations and recreational activities have become more sedentary, transport has become motorized, and the general use of technology has risen.
More support for women
Another point to address is the gender gap in physical activity. All over the world, women were found to be less active than men, except for East and Southeast Asia. Countries such as Bangladesh, Eritrea, India and Iraq registered a twenty percent or more difference in physical activity levels between men and women.
The authors of the study note that these inequalities have to be addressed globally, for example by giving women improved access to exercise that is affordable, safe and accepted in their culture.
Can a global action plan save us?
Just recently, in June 2018, the WHO published the “Global action plan on physical activity 2018-2030” with the aim of preventing and treating noncommunicable diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer, as well as obesity. Inactivity is a major concern for public health and as such should be tackled on a national level, the authors of the new study emphasize.
The WHO’s action plan (www.who.int )lists a number of policy areas that focus on creating more active societies by developing and improving public spaces. People should be encouraged to follow activities like cycling and running outside. Governments should therefore support the development and maintenance of activity-enhancing infrastructure, the report states.
Without these changes, the shocking inactivity trend will continue and become an even greater public health concern than it is right now. The WHO’s global activity target of a 10 percent decrease of inactivity to be met by 2025 won’t be reached without significant changes either.
Global action plan on physical activity 2018-2030