Does Sitting Negate the Benefits of Exercise?

“10,000 studies showing that chronic sitting—at work, commuting, and watching TV at night—

significantly impacts your cardiovascular and metabolic function”2

Bad news for those of us who work all day sitting at a desk, turn into coach potatoes in front of the TV, or sit whiling away hours on social media… Substantial research indicates the longer we sit, the higher our risk of:

  • type 2 diabetes
  • cancer
  • cardiovascular disease
  • early death.1

Moreover, women who spend over seven hours per day sitting, are subject to a 47% greater risk of suffering from depression when compared to those who do not sit for more than 4 hours per day.2

The average person sits down over eight hours per day. According to Dr Mercola, it is: “an independent risk factor for poor health and early death… Intermittent movement is critical for health and longevity—perhaps even more so than a regular workout routine.”2  And even more disconcerting news from research trials, is that regardless of how much we exercise, be it at the gym, taking fitness classes, or doing regular jogging and walking, these risk associations hold true. In fact, one study indicated that people who sit non-stop for six hours, neutralize the health advantages of exercising for a full hour!2

When we sit for prolonged periods of time, the detrimental effects are believed to be the result of reduced activity in the muscles, particularly the big muscles in the back and legs. The effects on the body are:

  • increased food cravings
  • adverse blood vessel function
  • diminished ability to expel harmful fats
  • decreased ability regulate blood sugar.1

But Why Should We Be Surprised By This?

Our bodies are designed to be active: to run, jump, walk, skip, reach, squat and bend. Not convinced? Think of the body power of athletes or stars like Jet Li. Being physically inactive and super-glued to a chair or sofa for hours on end, day in and day out, can be regarded as one of the worst side effects of contemporary living. Do you want to make a massive positive change to your well-being? Review your sitting time and make appropriate changes. There is good news in all of this research – you are likely to see and feel the benefits in a very short time!2

 Taking Action

One study showed that just a 5 minute walk for every 60 minutes that you are sitting down, lessens the risk of heart disease linked with chronic sitting. That seems easy enough! Do you want even more results? While you are at work, stand up every thirty minutes for several minutes. Standing while taking phone calls is one strategy, as is using a desk which enables you to work both seated and standing. Even standing and looking down at you computer for a short time while working on it, is beneficial. If you are watching TV, or are on a computer at home, be sure to incorporate short bursts of standing and moving about as well!2

Simple changes can provide huge results, especially when it comes to your health. Next time you find yourself sitting for hours on end, get up and walk around. It’s never too late to change your life and feel well again!

 

 

 

References

1. Davis, Robert J. (2017). CNN. “Can sitting cancel out the benefits of exercise?http://edition.cnn.com/2017/06/22/health/sitting-exercise-davis/index.html

2. Peak Fitness Mercola (2014).“Ten Minutes of Intermittent Movement for Every Hour of Sitting May Counteract Ill Health Effects of Prolonged Sitting.” https://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2014/09/19/intermittent-movement-prolonged-sitting.aspx