Sitting too much can be hazardous to your health, and exercise doesn’t help
This might hurt: Sitting disease can wreak havoc on your body
Just how much time do we spend on our butts? A Vanderbilt University study published in 2008 in the American Journal of Epidemiology reported more than 6,300 men and women spent 55 percent of their waking time–7.7 hours a day or 54 hours a week–in sedentary behaviors. Such behaviors where little energy is expended, the study noted, are associated with time spent sitting, reclining or lying down during waking hours at home, work, school, in transit and during leisure time.
“The body actually functions very differently when you’re sitting,” said Dr. James Levine, director of the Active Life research team at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “It functions very differently, not in a calorie-burning way only but also in the way it handles insulin, the way it handles cholesterol, triglycerides.”
A NEAT Way to Control Weight?
Why do some people remain slimmer than others? The answer may be in the amount of time lean individuals spend fidgeting, standing and walking around compared with sitting still. As Ravussin explains in a Perspective, a followup study by Levine et al. now pinpoints sitting as an important culprit of weight gain. Just sitting for 2.5 hours less each day would result in an extra energy expenditure of 350 kcal/day, which the authors calculate could translate into preventing the gain of extra pounds.
Sitting all day can be hazardous to your health, and exercise doesn’t help
By Jill Barker, Canwest News ServiceNovember 19, 2009
We love to sit. Be it on a couch, in a car, at a desk, in front of a screen or at the dinner table, the average adult spends over 90% of his waking hours with his butt firmly ensconced in a chair. This ubiquitous habit has not only taken over a good portion of our day, but it often goes uninterrupted for several hours.
The other side of this ugly statistic is that only 1% to 5% of those waking hours is spent performing moderate to physical activity with only 0.5% to 1% of this activity being sustained for at least 10 minutes.
This society of sitters has prompted health experts to examine the consequences of going from the breakfast table, to the car, to a desk, back to the table and finally to the couch in front of the TV.
What they found isn’t pretty. Each two-hour increase in daily time spent sitting is associated with a 5% to 23% increase in the risk of obesity and a 7% to 14% increase in the risk of type 2 diabetes. An enhanced probability of metabolic syndrome and ovarian cancer are also consequences of prolonged sitting.
According to a study published in the July 2008 edition of Current Cardiovascular Risk Results, the health consequences that develop from too much sitting are very different from those that result from too little exercise. In fact, the authors of the study have gone as far as labelling prolonged sitting as “a distinct health hazard.”
If that’s not scary enough, experts also suggest that future trends in communication, transportation and workplace technology could lead to even more time spent sitting.
For the most part, we seem relatively happy spending most of our day seated. That is until we have to let our belt out a notch or two or our bodies start to protest from all the inactivity. A study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine showed that workers who spent 95% of their day sitting increased their risk of neck pain.
How do you conquer the effects of prolonged sitting? Exercise helps, but it’s only a small part in the battle to reduce the amount of time spent in a chair. Experts suggest that even regular exercisers can be chronic sitters.
Look at the average day in the life of active Canadians and you can understand their point. They arrive to work at 9 a.m. and sit at their desk until noon, only to return after a 60-minute
workout to spend another four hours back at their desk. Add the seated hours spent travelling to and from work and in front of a TV or computer screen and you can see how the time spent sitting dwarfs the time spent exercising.
To further solidify their point, researchers evaluated the health of men and women who reported exercising five days a week for 30 minutes, a standard that is generally considered active enough to benefit health and fitness. What they found was surprising. Waist size, blood pressure and cholesterol levels were all negatively affected by time spent sitting. Also worth noting is that the results were more pronounced in women than in men.
In fact, the results were so significant, the researchers labelled this unique subset of the population “active couch potatoes.”
So, if regular exercise doesn’t counteract the ill effects of sitting, what does?
That’s easy. Get up and move. Often.
To be clear, I’m not talking about just exercising at your desk or hitting the stairs for an impromptu workout. Simple activities like standing up to answer the phone, walking down the hall to fill a water bottle and walking to a colleague’s office instead of sending an email, have shown to increase daily activity and reduce weight gain.
Research indicates that people who take frequent breaks during long periods of sedentary activity will have a waist circumference that, on average, is 5.9 centimetres less than that of people who are less inclined to get out of their chair.
More and more companies are in tune with the consequences of a sedentary work force and are hailing the benefits of moving more in the workplace. There’s also a call by some health experts to set up new health guidelines that suggest how often our sitting habit needs to be interrupted.
That doesn’t mean you need to wait for a set of guidelines before getting off your butt on a regular basis. Start kicking the sitting habit now. Budget five minutes of every hour to get out of your chair. Stand, stretch or go for a walk.
And if your boss asks what you’re doing away from your desk, invite him to stand alongside you while you explain the consequences of being an active couch potato.
Copyright (c) Canwest News Service
Republished by Blog Post Promoter