Are You Succumbing To “Sitting Disease?”


As we ring in another new year, many of us stop to think about how we can make positive change for ourselves in the form of “New Year Resolutions.” Those resolutions often focus on our physical health- recovering from a gluttonous Holiday season, for example. As a Health Centered Dentist in Los Altos, it never ceases to amaze me how much more populated the gym is the first few weeks of the year. Of course, by February, the majority of the crowds are thinning out. Setting health goals and following through with them isn’t easy. Like fad diets, new years resolutions that relate to a disciplined exercise regimen do not have a high success rate for the majority of people. According to the US News and World Report, 80% of new years resolutions fail by the second week of February. It seems that finding life balance is becoming progressively more difficult.

There’s no denying that Industrialization has had profound effects on us. With modern day lifestyles and modern day conveniences, we have generally denied ourselves or ignored some very critical pieces to what it means to be a healthy human.

A chronic sedentary existence slows your metabolism

Only 6.5% of Americans meet the recommendations set by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), stating that an individual should participate in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, or 75 minutes of a more vigorous regimen. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 60 to 85% of the population worldwide does not engage in enough activity, making physical activity the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality. The average American sits for 11 hours per day. A chronic sedentary existence slows metabolism and leads to weight gain and musculoskeletal problems. Of course, weight gain contributes to a myriad of health problems, many of which can become life threatening. Is it any wonder why rates of obesity and type II diabetes are skyrocketing in this country? Recent statistics indicate that roughly 35-40% of Americans are obese.

Do these trends concern you? There’s no doubt that human beings are built for a physically active existence and when people either choose or are forced into a sedentary lifestyle, their health declines, sometimes at a remarkable pace. My profession has given me the opportunity to watch thousands of people age over approximately 20 years and an all too common scenario reemerges: a patient becomes more sedentary, either because they have a physical exercise/caloric intake imbalance or perhaps succumb to an injury. Sometimes the injury is perpetuated by the sedentary lifestyle. With inactivity comes weight gain and often a depressed mood which certainly doesn’t tend to motivate to action. The cycle continues until a diagnosis such as type II diabetes or congestive heart failure follows, and as is true with any disease, the more it advances, the more it takes hold on our lives. As a caveat, I don’t mean to suggest that all diseases are due to behaviors and thus preventable. Clearly, genetics and environmental factors play a role.

On a brighter note, I have been inspired by many patients in my Los Altos dental practice who defy this sedentary trend, that actively seek a healthy lifestyle, radiate a life of vibrancy and are not succumbing to the “Sitting Disease.” As a Health-Centered Dentist, I have interviewed plenty of them in an attempt to understand their secret. It seems they are committed to an active lifestyle because they’ve taken the time to ask themselves WHY? What’s the payoff? I believe that many of resolutions and goals fail because we set them thinking we should, perhaps even out of guilt, but lose our sights on the WHY. As we embark on a new year, and if you’ve made a renewed commitment to your health and overall dental health, I encourage you to ask what you intend to benefit from the effort. Be specific. How will you feel? How will this affect your personality? Your job performance? Your parenting effectiveness? Your longevity? Color the outcome bold and bright in your mind and do what you can to not succumb to the Sitting Disease.

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Dr. Schweifler and our Los Altos Dentistry team are committed to providing exceptional care and empowering our patients with information about their dental health. If you have any questions about our dental services, or would like to schedule an appointment, we invite you to give us a call at 650-941-2166 for a complimentary consultation. The outstanding experience of our Los Altos Dentist Dr. Schweifler, and the skills of our staff have helped us in successfully treating oral problems in our patients who visit us from different parts of Los Altos, Palo Alto, San Jose, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Saratoga, and Mountain View.