The Balance Between Exercise and Sedentary Habits

The Balance Between Exercise and Sedentary Habits

Figure 1-3: Relationship Among Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity, Sitting Time, and Risk of All-Cause Mortality in Adults

Today we are faced with a new public health crisis. It is not an infectious disease, but something far more mundane: our sedentary lifestyles.

Recent studies have indicated that American children and adults spend a staggering 7.7 hours a day being sedentary. These statistics have ignited concerns and the 2018 Advisory Committee has found a strong correlation between sedentary behavior and the risk of all-cause mortality.

The US Department of Health and Human Services has gathered research to inform adults and youths about how often sedentary periods should be punctuated with physical activity.

One of the most compelling findings is graphically illustrated by a heat map, that illustrates the relationship between sedentary behavior (sitting time) and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. As physical activity increases and sitting time decreases, the risk of all-cause mortality decreases. And though the recommended 60 to 75 minutes per day of moderate-intensity activities, or 30 to 40 minutes per day of vigorous-intensity activities can lower the risk of sitting, the high-volume of activity is only achieved by a fraction of the population.

Dr. Anne Friedlander, a Professor at Stanford University and the Associate Director of Stanford Lifestyle Medicine, further elucidates the figure’s message:

“Prolonged, continuous sitting is associated with increased risk for many chronic diseases. It’s important to note that even if you meet the guidelines for regular physical activity, sitting for the rest of the day can reduce the benefits that you get from that activity. Thus, it is important to move throughout the day regardless of your exercise routine!” – Dr. Anne Friedlander

Moreover, our team at Stanford Lifestyle Medicine has up come with potential recommendations and tools for a healthier lifestyle. Aim to interrupt sitting 3-5 times a day with moderate to vigorous movement such as:

  • Use a wearable device that logs movement and inspires you to move regularly
  • Set a timer on your computer to get up and move
  • Use a restroom on a different floor to get some brisk stair climbing in
  • Walking briskly down the hall to talk to coworkers instead of sending an email
  • Get a pet companion who encourages you to move more!

In our increasingly sedentary society, the research offers a clear call to arms, or rather, legs: To neutralize the ticking bomb of sedentary living, it’s time for America to stand up, take action, and perhaps, take a walk. Are we ready to rise to the challenge?

By: Helena Zhang, BS & Anne Friedlander, PhD


  1. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans 2nd edition
Fasting May Benefit Our Gut Health

High Fiber Fermented Foods – The One-Two Punch Boost for Your Gut and Immune Health

Having a diverse microbiome is good for you, but how can we increase diversity in our digestive system through what we eat?

A 2021 study from Stanford University suggests that diets high in fiber and fermented foods might be just the ticket to increasing diversity in your microbiome and could even strengthen your immune system.

You may have heard of the concept of one’s microbiome—the diverse community of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other microbes that live on our skin and inside of our bodies. The health and balance of our microbiome is critical to our own health. In healthy bodies, our microbiota helps us digest our food, stimulate our immune system, and provide us with other benefits. Each person’s microbiome is unique, with our first exposures to these microorganisms coming from our mothers during birth and through breastmilk and later affected by our environments, diets, and lifestyles [1].

The study followed two groups of participants, each prescribed to increase either their fiber or fermented foods consumption over a 17-week period. Participants in the fermented foods group saw increased microbial diversity at the end of the study period and decreased inflammatory markers. Inflammation correlates with a host of chronic diseases, so learning that we can decrease it while increasing our microbial diversity makes fermented foods a one-two punch. Participants in the high fiber group were observed to have increased capacity for digesting fiber, suggesting increased numbers of beneficial microorganisms but no significant increase in diversity [2]. Eating foods that are high in fiber AND fermented, such as sauerkraut or kimchi have the possibility of having all three benefits, increasing the diversity and number of beneficial microorganisms as well as decreasing inflammation.

In studies of immigrants to the United States, observed “westernization” of their microbiota has been correlated with loss of microbial diversity and functionality along with deteriorating health indicators such as weight gain and increased inflammation [3]. A healthy body goes hand in hand with a healthy microbiome. Why not try integrating high fiber fermented foods to give your body a boost?

By: HannahZoe Chua-Reyes, BS


  1. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
  2. Gut-microbiota-targeted diets modulate human immune status
  3. U.S. immigration westernizes the human gut microbiome
Seeing the World with New Eyes

Seeing the World with New Eyes

Life as we know often presents us with surprise, change, uncertainties, excitement, and all that lies in between. This week, Chaplain Bruce Feldstein, MD, Head of our Gratitude & Reflection Pillar, invites us to take a pause and ask ourselves – what is your current situation? Who shares the situation with you? And what matters the most to you?He urges us to try and find perspective, by considering different horizons of time: today, the coming months, or the next chapter of our life. Whether we reflect on these questions in quietude, during a reflective walk, through the art of journaling, or amidst enriching conversations with others, we will be more capable of facing our present existence with new eyes.

Proust has a famous quote that goes, “The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” And so, as we live these questions of reflection, we may discover new ways of taking the ups and downs of life on.

For Dr. Bruce Feldstein, the quote helps him realize importance of allowing and slowing down. He explains that “On the path towards wisdom and discovery, when you listen, demonstrate presence, and show caring, and most importantly, slow down, a new world of appreciation and learning may emerge.”


By: Helena Zhang, BS & Bruce Feldstein, MD, BCC

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Counteracting Chronic Sitting

Counteracting Chronic Sitting

Recently published in the Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, this randomized crossover study looked at the dose-response behavior in middle-and older-aged adults to prescribed walking during long periods of sitting.

The findings suggest that breaking up sitting time with 5-minute light-intensity walks every half hour can counteract the harmful effects of prolonged sitting.

While there is no specific amount of time spent sitting that puts you in harm’s way, we know that sitting more is worse for you. Thus, it is no surprise that getting up even for a light walk down the hallway every 30 minutes can be much more beneficial to your health. But how does this work? Compared to a controlled trial, walking for 5 minutes after every 30 minutes of sitting a day significantly reduced blood glucose levels. Similarly, systolic BP significantly decreased with 5-minute walks for every 30 minutes sitting & 1-minute walks for every 60 minutes. Along with glycemic and systolic BP responses, fatigue, mood, and cognitive performance all improved with the increases in walking time. Participants, overall, benefitted from more time spent walking. However, any walking break during periods of prolonged sitting is better than nothing!

Overall, this study highlights the importance of finding ways to become more active throughout the entire day, even if it is just for a few moments. There has been a rise in “actively sedentary” lifestyles, which involve engaging in approximately an hour of intense physical activity but spending the rest of the day sitting. However, both daily physical activity and moving throughout the day are essential for maintaining overall health. 

By: Carly Mae Smith, BS

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  1. Breaking Up Prolonged Sitting to Improve Cardiometabolic Risk: Dose–Response Analysis of a Randomized Crossover Trial

A Physiologist On The Best Exercise For Women Going Through Different Stages Of Menopause – Katie Couric Media

Stacy Sims, MSC, PHD, is a forward-thinking international exercise physiologist and nutrition scientist who aims to revolutionize exercise nutrition and performance for women. She spoke with Katie Couric about why exercise is so important for women as we get older, and the best exercises for women in different stages of menopause.