Have you noticed all the recent press about the dangers of sitting? Several prominent newspapers have featured articles on this topic in the past couple of years.
And folks, the news ain’t good…
In April 2012, the New York Times called the disastrous consequences of sitting “swift, pervasive and punishing”.
Although the increased attention is recent, the data proving this correlation dates back to the early 1950’s. Back then, a study focusing on London bus conductors and drivers showed that the conductors were both smaller in size and experienced half the coronary heart disease mortality of the drivers. What caused this difference? While collecting tickets, the conductors regularly walked the length of the bus, as well as up and down the stairs. The drivers, however, were sedentary behind the wheel for most of the day.
More recently, a 2012 meta-analysis (a large study that reviews and summarizes the results of multiple studies) studying close to 800,000 participants showed that sitting for prolonged periods increases your risk of the following:
Sitting is now believed to be so dangerous that its been labeled ‘the new smoking’. A 2012 Australian study estimated that every hour spent watching television while sitting reduces your life span by 22 minutes. In contrast, each cigarette you smoke is estimated to shorten your lifespan by 11 minutes.
Why is sitting so dangerous?
The truth is, the human body was designed for walking and movement, not sitting for prolonged periods of time. For thousands of years, this was not a problem. However, technological advances over the past century have led to the majority of people in developed countries spending over one half their waking hours sitting. This equates to approximately 9 ½ hours per day in the chair.
But, YOU exercise regularly so you are off the hook, right?!
Unfortunately, no, exercise is not the answer.
The surprising results of an eight-year study of 250,000 American adults conducted by the National Cancer Institute showed that exercise had only a very small impact on the risk of death for those who were otherwise sedentary.
That’s not to say you should stop exercising! Exercise is beneficial for many reasons. However, many of the positive effects of exercise wear off after a short period of time, after which the negative effects of sitting set in.
But I have a desk job – what can I do?
The good news is, there are ways to mitigate the negative effects of prolonged inactivity. Dr. James Levine from the Mayo Clinic has coined the new term NEAT, or non-exercise activity thermogenesis. NEAT accounts for most of our movement and caloric expenditure, even more than a formal daily exercise routine. According to Dr. Levine, technological advances such as cell phones, computers, remotes, etc. are robbing the NEAT from our lives – upwards of 1,500 to 2,400 calories per day. That amount of calories per day, over time, can be the difference between being slim and trim, and being morbidly obese.
In other words, the key is to increase activity level throughout the day, not just in one spurt at the beginning or end of the day. Studies show that even a two-minute walk every 20 minutes will improve glucose metabolism.
Increase your NEAT each day by following these simple lifestyle changes:
The fact is, there are thousands of unique ways to add activity to your life. The key is to do these things throughout the day, every day. Think of an hour at work as your therapist would – as 50 minutes. Spend five to ten minutes per hour simply moving around. Your body will thank you and if they are smart, your employer will too. Health care savings and increased productivity should more than compensate for those lost minutes of work.
Lastly, when it comes to mitigating the negative effects of sitting, the best advice is found in the book Exuberant Animal: The Power of Health, Play and Joyful Movement by Frank Forencich:
“Exercise is optional, movement is mandatory.”
See the original post at The Vail Diet, here.
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