We sit down TOO MUCH! One 2008 study suggested Americans spend an average of 55% of the time they’re awake sitting down. An average of three hours of this time was spent plopped in front of a television.
There is a growing body of evidence that suggests all of this sitting can have detrimental effects on our health. Sitting for long stretches of time has been linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity, and while the massive benefits of exercise cannot be devalued, they also cannot counteract the negative effects associated with this level of inactivity.
Between our daily commute, hours spent at work at our desks, then the hours we spend relaxing at the end of the day, it all adds up. Even people who find time to exercise can’t counteract the negative effects of being sedentary for long stretches of time.
Recent studies show that this is not only attributed to the low-level calorie burning that occurs while sitting and the weight gain associated with this time. Scientists have been studying the effects inactivity has on lipoprotein lipase, the enzyme that carries fat from our blood to our muscles. When we are sitting, this enzyme is suppressed and the fat remains in our blood, increasing our risk of heart disease. While exercise stimulates the enzyme, it does not undo the adverse effects of long periods of inactivity.
Obviously we can’t all quit our jobs, and much of the time we spend seated is unavoidable. So, what’s the solution?
Take breaks, and find time to stand more!
Studies show that taking a break from sitting down once every 20 minutes can reduce blood-glucose levels, and begin to counteract the time we spend sitting. It might seem like a lot, but even replacing two minutes of sitting with two minutes of standing makes a difference.
The most important thing is that we take breaks… drink more water so you walk to the restroom more frequently, stand up to change the channel on the television rather than using the remote control, ask your employer about adjustable sit-to-stand desks. Even if it is only low-level activity, your body will thank you for getting on your feet more often!
Want to learn more about what happens to your body when you sit for extended periods of time? Watch the short video below!