I’m sure you’ve read it everywhere: sitting is not good for you. Especially the amount of sitting that we do, as we evolve into a more digital lifestyle (read: online shopping vs. walking around shopping).
Oh, and do I even need to mention the desk job? As our work hours get longer, it seems that we are getting unhealthier. After all, British researchers did find that sitting less – by about 90 minutes a day – could be more helpful in reducing type 2 diabetes than exercising regularly.
So why is sitting so bad?
When you sit for an extended period of time, your body starts to shut down at the metabolic level, says Marc Hamilton, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Missouri. When muscles—especially the big ones meant for movement, like those in your legs—are immobile, your circulation slows and you burn fewer calories. Key flab-burning enzymes responsible for breaking down triglycerides (a type of fat) simply start switching off. Sit for a full day and those fat burners plummet by 50 percent, Levine says.
I knew that sitting was bad but really, until I started digging into it, I didn’t know how bad it was. And it’s so disappointing that even if you are working out – sitting can overrule all the good that you do.
Consider this: We’ve become so sedentary that 30 minutes a day at the gym may not do enough to counteract the detrimental effects of eight, nine, or 10 hours of sitting, says Genevieve Healy, Ph.D., a research fellow at the Cancer Prevention Research Centre of the University of Queensland in Australia. That’s one big reason so many women still struggle with weight, blood sugar, and cholesterol woes despite keeping consistent workout routines.
This makes me sad for several reasons. First of all, I sit. A lot. At least nine hours a day at my job.
Luckily I have an “active” commute where I walk or stand a great deal (and on what I consider a lucky day, may get a seat for about 20 minutes of the commute). But really, does it matter? Given that I sit so much, my active lifestyle seems to be a “that’s nice” attribute, rather than one that’s making a difference.
The good thing is that there are some things that you can do. First of all, if your company is cool, see if they can get you a standing desk or even a chair with an exercise ball (or even if they would be cool with you purchasing it yourself). Or what about this super cool TrekDesk:
Seriously, I would be mad productive if I had one of these!
Secondly, there’s NEAT – non-exercise activity thermogenesis. I first read about NEAT in Jillian’s book. Basically it’s moving as much as you can throughout your day. So, taking that parking spot that’s further out, taking the stairs or fidgeting as you sit throughout the day. Even standing periodically helps or if you can, doing squats or jumping jacks throughout the day.
Yeah, OK, how is that going to make a difference?
Honestly, you aren’t going to lose 10 pounds by moving around a bit more than you usually would, but what it will do is make sure that those fat burners aren’t turning off as much as they would if you were just sitting for hours. And hours. Plus it will help you feel more energized throughout the day.
How many hours do you sit each day? How do you bring “NEAT” into your daily lifestyle?
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