Are you sitting down right now? Even those of us who exercise regularly may spend the majority of our weekdays sitting in a desk chair. What about after work? As it happens, many people are simply moving from computer screen to TV screen. In fact, according to the Nielsen Company’s Three Screen Report, Americans watch as much as 153 hours of TV per person every month.
Why is all this sitting problematic? As one study revealed, even when adults meet physical activity guidelines, sitting for prolonged periods can compromise metabolic health and increase premature mortality risk.1 Another study found that for both women and men, sitting time was detrimentally associated with waist circumference, BMI, blood pressure, triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, blood sugar, and fasting insulin.2
According to Marc Hamilton, Ph.D., professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Missouri, the rates of heart disease, diabetes and obesity are doubled or even tripled in people who sit for long periods. One reason for this may be that when we sit at length, the muscle lipoprotein lipase─which works to control plasma triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, and other metabolic risk factors─is no longer able to effectively help muscles absorb fat. As a result, fat is more likely to be recirculated in your blood stream where it can clog arteries, among other problems.3
With this is mind, see if you can increase your standing time, especially when it’s easy to do so, like when you watch your kids at the park, swim lessons, gymnastics, etc. At work, break up long periods of sitting with short breaks to walk, stretch, get some fresh air, and drink your water. Doing so will not only improve your health, you’ll get a natural energy boost as well.
1 Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2010 Jul;38(3):105-13
2 Diabetes Care. 2010 Feb;33(2):327-34. Epub 2009 Nov 16
3 Diabetes. 2007 Nov;56(11):2655-67. Epub 2007 Sep 7