A Social Network for Health Informatics Professionals and Students
All evidence points to technology being a major cause of sedentary behavior, particularly watching TV, computers and gaming. Inactivity contributes to obesity, which in turn contributes to heart disease and cancer. Early emphasis has been on moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), with the recommendation of 150 minutes/week for adults. Unfortunately, only 5% of adults in the US only achieve this.
In the past several years we have learned that sedentary activity (1-3 METS) is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease and cancer, even if someone exercises. At age 65-70 adults spend about 75% of their waking hours in the sedentary mode.
So what is the solution?? Many countries are recommending walking programs to provide light intensity exercise to counteract the effects of sedentary activity. Pedometers are a good way to measure simple movements such as walking, but fail to measure exercise intensity. In the past decade accelerometers have become the gold standard for activity. They can measure steps, activity counts, body position, light levels, kilo-calories burned during the day and sleep at night and they do measure intensity. Currently I am wearing both a pedometer and accelerometer Actigo so I can understand these technologies better. As a spin-off benefit, sleep quantity/quality is also measured with the device worn on the wrist. There are also a variety of programs to monitor fitness these days, such as RunKeeper a smartphone program that tracks your times and distance by GPS and hosts that information on their server. Another interesting technology is Up by Jawbone; a wrist worn device that also tracks your activity but can vibrate to either remind you to get up from sedentary activity or to wake you up.
While I have great hope for technology, I'm a realist. It takes motivation and incentives to change people's habits. Just because the technology is "cool" and performs well doesn't mean people will spend more time walking and less time sitting. What is the solution?.....Bob