If you're obese, and you drive a car, here's a sobering bit of news: You're more likely to die in an auto accident than drivers who are a normal weight, according to a new study reported in The New York Times.

The study, published online in the Emergency Medical Journal, focused on accident data recorded in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System. Researchers looked at driver's licenses to record the driver's height and weight, along with other facts like the driver's sex, seat-belt use, driver's alcohol use, and time of day the accident occurred. 

The study found that a BMI of 30 to 34.9 was associated with a 21 percent increase in the risk of death while a BMI of 35 and 39.9 was associated with a 51 percent increase. The drivers most at risk, those with a BMI above 40, were 81 percent more likely to die in a crash than a driver of normal weight involved in a similar accident.

"This adds one more item to the long list of negative consequences of obesity," lead author Thomas M. Rice of the Transportation Research and Education Center of the University of California, Berkeley, said, according to The New York Times. "It's one more reason to lose weight."

If you'd like to shed those unwanted pounds but feel that you never have time to exercise because you're deskbound—or spending hours commuting in your car—take heart. In terms of getting in shape and generally feeling better, there are moves you can make without ever leaving your office. And if you're smart about snacks, you can shed more pounds.

"Very often, it is the small lifestyle changes that can be more lasting," says Evan Johnson, PT, DPT, MS, OCS, MTC, director of physical therapy at the Spine Center at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. "Get up two or three times an hour and walk back and forth down the hallway at work. Or take a brisk walk down the hall."

Here are more things to try:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator, but start out slowly, Johnson says. "Don't go from no stairs to 10 flights," he advises. "If you work on the eighth floor, stop the elevator at the sixth floor and walk the last two floors. Increase it gradually."

  • Try isometric exercises, suggests Sharon Zarabi, RD, CDN, a nutritionist/fitness trainer at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. These exercises, while not big calorie burners, put no strain on your joints and can help keep your body toned to reduce the risk of injury. Try, for instance, wall squats—these help strengthen the large muscle groups in your lower body and don't require any movement except for you holding a squat position against a wall. Try to get your knees perpendicular to the floor. Hold for as long as possible and repeat. These exercises are especially recommended for those with joint pain.

  • Another to try: Wall pushups. Facing a wall, place your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart at shoulder level. Back your feet up a few steps away from the wall so that your elbows are bent as you lean on an angle into the wall. Bend your elbows as if doing pushups and adjust your angle based on your strength level and body weight.
    To stretch out your back, lean against a wall with your entire spine hugging the wall. Lift your hands above your head, press your spine into the wall, and hold it for a minute.

  • Finally, get smart about snacks. Taking snacks from home will reduce the temptation to go out and buy high-cal, high-fat treats at work, says Michelle Morgan, RD, of New York-Presbyterian/Weill-Cornell Medical Center in New York City. "Come as prepared as possible and you won't splurge in the cafeteria," she says. "Choosing snacks that have both carbohydrates and protein will give you energy and keep you feeling satisfied throughout the day." Pack cut-up raw vegetables and hummus (but portion out the hummus so you don't overdo), a Greek yogurt, a piece of fruit with a part-skim mozzarella cheese stick, or a handful of unsalted almonds, she recommends.

Michelle Morgan, RD, reviewed this article.




Bakalar, Nicholas. "An Unexpected Road Hazard: Obesity." 21 January 2013. The New York Times.

Parker-Pope, Tara. "Ask Well: Help for the Deskbound." 15 January 2013. The New York Times