We all know that sitting can contribute to weight problems and common sense tells us that's because sitting doesn't burn as many calories as, say, standing or walking. But, that isn't the only issue with sitting.
In a study published in Diabetes, scientists found that when we sit for long periods of time, the enzymes responsible for burning fat actually shut down. Not only that, but sitting too much can also lower HDL ('good' cholesterol) and lead to a slower metabolism. Even if you exercise later in the day, that won't necessarily undo the damage done by sitting.
The question these scientists are asking, and maybe the question some of us are wondering is: "Can the average adult who already does not follow the public health policy prescribing regular moderate-vigorous exercise become even more unhealthy in the coming years if they sit too much and do not maintain sufficient daily nonexercise physical activity?"
The answer to that is probably a yes, unless we do something about it. The good news is that just standing up can kick your fat-burning enzymes into gear. With a little creativity, you may find there are simple ways to get your butt out of the chair:
Try software that reminds you to move. There are a number of applications available (like StretchWare) that offer break reminders and stretching exercises you can do right in your office.
Set an alarm to go off every 45-60 minutes and stand up, stretch or take a short walk
Stand up for certain tasks like talking on the phone or opening the mail
Take the stairs to another floor to use the restroom or visit a friend
Do you have any ideas for staying active at work? Leave a comment and tell us about it!
Hamilton, Marc T., et al. Role of Low Energy Expenditure and Sitting in Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, Type 2 Diabetes, and Cardiovascular Disease. Diabetes. 2007 Nov;56(11):2655-67"
From Paige Waehner
Role of Low Energy Expenditure and Sitting in Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, Type 2 Diabetes, and Cardiovascular Disease
Marc T. Hamilton1,2, Deborah G. Hamilton1, and Theodore W. Zderic1
1 Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, Missouri
2 Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, Missouri
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Marc T. Hamilton, E102 VMB 1600 E. Rollins Rd., Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO 65211. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Abbreviations: CVD, cardiovascular disease; DVT, deep venous thrombosis; FTW, fast-twitch white; LPL, lipoprotein lipase; NEAT, nonexercise activity thermogenesis; PAL, physical activity level