Posted by: shericolberg | October 15, 2010

Why Sitting May Be Deadly

Not that you need anything else to worry about, but now experts are claiming that sitting can kill you. We all know the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle, but this latest news is more alarming for those of us who consider ourselves active because we work out most days. In a series of recent studies on sedentary behavior conducted at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, LA, researchers have found that that sitting for prolonged periods—regardless of whether you also exercise regularly or where and when the sitting takes place—could be bad for your health.

It’s the overall number of hours of sitting that matters most. After just four hours of sitting, the body starts to send harmful signals and genes regulating the amount of glucose and fat in the body start to shut down.  Based on these and other related findings, exercise experts are beginning to suggest that we rethink how we define physical activity to highlight the dangers of sitting. Up to this point, official guidelines recommending minimum amounts of physical activity have not tried to limit how much time people spend in a seated position.

If you are one of those people who exercise every day—but still spend a lot of time sitting—you may benefit more if that exercise were spread across the day, rather than done all at once. That works for diabetes management as well, helping prevent and manage post-meal glucose spikes with muscular activity at various times during the day. You can also simply break up the time you spend sitting with frequent breaks of standing, walking, and other physical movement. So, what are you waiting for?  Stop reading this blog and get up and do something, anything!

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Responses

  1. This is a bit troubling!

    I do quite a bit of exercise every day, but there are stretches where I am mostly sitting for more than 4 hours at a time.

    Time to get more active throughout the day…

    Thanks for your post,

    Ian

  2. It is troubling! I worked through my own numbers and realized I was sitting more than 7.5 hours a day. My dad has diabetes and heart disease and I realized that may be my future too if I’m not careful. Here’s a site that is good for learning more: http://juststand.org. Thanks!

  3. It’s even more troubling if you have a spinal cord injury and spend all of you time sitting down! That is, unlless you are lying down in bed sleeping! What is the mechanism here? Is it just that sitting equals inactivity? If so, would periodic upper body exercise help (that is, upperbody exercise every 4 hours or so)? Or would working standing up (using a special standing table) help? Any advice to mitigate this new finding for those of us who have to sit? Thanks!

    • Yes, it’s mostly that sitting equates with inactivity. You can certainly do upper body exercise at various times during the day, and standing up would also help. Even fidgeting can help. Just move any part of your body that you can as often as you can.


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