Sitting worse than cigarettes? Don’t quit New Year’s goals, try tweaking them

Skye Duncan | Lariat Photo Editor
Skye Duncan | Lariat Photo Editor
Skye Duncan | Lariat Photo Editor

By Amanda Hayes

Instead of giving up on failed New Year’s resolutions, Meg Patterson, director of wellness, suggests student try tweaking their original goals.

Many students began 2015 with a “new year, new me” mentality, only to find a month into the year nothing has changed. Now that the semester is picking up, it can be easy to get discouraged and abandon resolutions altogether.

One hour of sitting can shed 22 minutes from a person’s life. One cigarette takes an average of 10 minutes, according to a TIME study. These statistics have fueled the latest trend in health research, known as “Sitting is the New Smoking.”

As a result, Patterson said students should reduce the amount of time they spend sitting.

“It is ideal to work out at least three times a week, for 30 minutes to an hour each time,” Patterson said. “But if you can’t carve out an hour in your schedule, just try to sit less.”

Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative, said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that sitting is more harmful than smoking, and leads to more deaths than HIV and parachuting.

“We’re made to move” Patterson said. “But that doesn’t mean we’re all made to be cross-fitters or marathon runners.”

Patterson said setting an alarm for 45 minutes when working at a desk, and then taking a short break to get moving, can help with being sedentary for long periods of time. She said even if this is just walking down the hall, the movement boosts metabolism.

Dallas senior Grace Meyer said sitting can sometimes counteract productivity during the day.

“Running has the benefit of endorphins, and it relieves stress,” Meyer said. “But if I just run and then sit all day, it doesn’t have the same effect. It’s the little things, like walking to class, that boosts my mood.”

Skye Duncan | Lariat Photo Editor
Skye Duncan | Lariat Photo Editor

When it comes to exercise, there is a misunderstanding that everyone needs to be a runner, Patterson said.

“Try reminding yourself: why did I set this goal to begin with?” Patterson said. “How realistic is this goal that you set over Christmas break?”

In regard to healthy eating, Patterson said she advises students to think it through.

“Plan your meals ahead of time, and write it down so you are more likely to follow it. This helps students to see patterns and determine problem areas,” Patterson said.

Patterson said although it can be difficult for college students to eat well when they live in the dorm and don’t have a kitchen to cook in, these students should aim to have four to five fruits or vegetables per day. For those who are really new to eating healthy, Patterson said to eat something green every day.

“It’s all about consistency,” Patterson said. “It’s what you do on a daily basis that forms habits, and these habits continue past college.”