March 14th, 2013
10:37 AM ET

The danger of our sedentary society

"Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

Fareed speaks with David Agus, author of "The End of Illness" and one of the world's leading oncologists, about health in America. To see all of this or other interviews, download the show at iTunes.

You also point out something really interesting, which is that we all think that the path to being fit is to go to the gym. And you say if you go to the gym for 45 minutes, an hour a day – that actually doesn't make much of a difference if...

Well, listen, if you sit the rest of the day, sitting for five hours is equivalent to smoking a pack or a pack and a quarter of cigarettes. It's an amazing thing that we design buildings based on LEED certifications, right? It's going to help the environment and everything is recycled, etc. But we're not doing anything on health. The more important you are, the closer your parking space is to your desk. The more resources you have, the more bathrooms in your house. You don't have to walk place to place.

Well, 1953, they looked at the British Transit Authority. There were 26,000 workers. Half were the bus drivers and half were the ticket takers that walked up and down those double decker buses. Well, it was more than half the death rate of heart disease in the ticket takers and significantly less cancer. And they weighed the same...

Because they're the ones walking around?

They smoked the same, everything the same, it's just moving. Your body was designed to move. That's how your lymphatics work. Yet we've engineered our society to sit. We need to change that.

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Topics: Health

soundoff (79 Responses)
  1. reality

    I agree we need to move but not so much on concrete or pavement. Our bodies are built for the earth(soft ground). the ground gives like we give. Cement and pavement take a terrible toll on our bodies. I worked in the grocery business until I was 28. I had to quit my job. My calves, feet, legs got to where they ached day and night. I crawled for 3 months back and forth through the house. I can tell a difference when I walk on dirt opposed to concrete. I can walk further, longer and faster with less pain afterward.

    March 18, 2013 at 8:38 am | Reply
    • that white guy

      that is so true. i feel like its actually wearing out my joints as opposed to walking/running on earth.

      March 18, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Reply
    • SixDegrees

      What rubbish.

      First, the world is filled with rocks, and people manage to live, work and travel over hard rock surfaces on a daily basis without whining about it. Second, if you're in pain with your precious feet swaddled in modern shoes, which provide more padding and support than anything in the past, there's something far more wrong with you than the surface you're squishing your foam-encased feet on, quite possibly psychosomatic.

      March 18, 2013 at 6:48 pm | Reply
  2. CTW

    Their messge would have had more credibility (not that I doubt) if they didn't do the interview sitting....

    March 18, 2013 at 11:32 am | Reply
  3. SixDegrees

    "We need to change that."

    Maybe you could start by not deriding people who actually work out on a daily basis because they're not working out enough. The most common reaction to such condescension is for people to dig in their heels and simply stop exercising at all.

    Maybe you should consider publishing your screeds on paper and making people walk to pick them up, instead of pushing your blather out onto the Internet on a regular basis. You're only encouraging people to sit passively in front of a screen by disseminating your opinions this way; you're a huge part of the problem, and you offer no solutions, only criticisms.

    March 18, 2013 at 6:44 pm | Reply
  4. JB

    Its funny that they are sitting while giving an interview about not sitting

    March 18, 2013 at 7:36 pm | Reply
  5. fiftyfive55

    I cant wait until my job is sent overseas so I can collect unemployment for a couple of years just like everyone else without a job does.This working isn't fun when I can get food stamps and spending money instead so go ahead dems/repubs,ship more jobs out of America.

    March 19, 2013 at 6:42 am | Reply
  6. Rick McDaniel

    Actually, we were, like most animals, designed to move at slower pace, most of the time, and with rapid pace, for limited periods, a few times a day.

    if you look at any animals in the wild, they will be moving slowly about, looking for food, may have brief periods of high activity while attaining food, or fleeing danger, and will spend a good deal of time, resting.

    Man's activities, on the other hand, have always been more associated with activities within a group (not unlike ants), with many of the activities involving the production of goods for use, such as clothing, pots, baskets, and other things associated with saving and preserving food for future consumption. While many of those used to be more physical, today, most things have become mechanized to some degree, and it is the mechanization, which has allowed the shift of labor from essentials, to "work" activities, and most of those 'work" activities are now, sitting types of activities.

    For instance, we no longer use a hand, or human power mower........we use power mowers, that are mostly self propelled, or riding, and, weed eaters, to maintain our yards. Big time savings, big human energy savings, and much bigger waistlines, as a result.

    The best exercise for humans, is manual labor, in accomplishing tasks. That works all muscle groups, increases heart rate, increases circulation, and improves mind-hand coordination. Still, there are lines of diminishing return, as well, as labor that actually can injure the body, is something that needs to be avoided.

    In truth, it is the willingness to do physical labor, that is the obstacle to maintaining a healthy weight, and maintaining good physical condition. That willingness, has become so reduced, that it is nearly impossible to get anyone to do anything, much less take a walk.........which is about as little as you can do.

    March 22, 2013 at 12:56 pm | Reply
  7. Hayden Tanoue

    Your first step to find out if you are at a healthy weight is to find out what your BMI, or body mass index, is and what your waist size is. For most people, these are good clues to whether they are at a healthy weight.;^,-

    View the most current content at our new blog

    June 22, 2013 at 9:44 am | Reply
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