Have you heard this phrase? “Sitting is the new smoking” speaks to the new understanding that a sedentary lifestyle is as big a risk factor for heart disease as smoking.
It’s not all about body fat. It is more or less true that the more you sit, the fatter you are. The more you move, the more calories you burn, the less fat you are. But that’s not the whole story. Physical activity influences WHERE you carry your body fat. Physical activity is shown to decrease the dangerous abdominal fat that increases your risk of a heart attack.
In addition to influencing body composition, sitting still is associated with increased inflammatory markers in the bloodstream. Studies have shown that inflammatory markers in your bloodstream are higher the more time you spend sitting still. This is even found in children (a great reason to turn off the TV and get your kids outside running around).
What does this mean? You need to move more. If your job requires you to sit for long periods, you need to find a way to do more of your job standing up. A research study published last week showed that replacing 2 hours per day of sitting down with standing up lowered triglycerides by 11% and lowered average blood sugar by 2%.
If you can find a way to replace sitting with walking that’s even better. This same study showed that replacing 2 hours of sitting per day with walking resulted in weight loss, lower triglycerides and lower blood sugar. There are cool “treadmill desks” if you absolutely mustn’t leave your desk from time to time to walk around the office.
In practical terms, what does this mean? It means we need to move more. I’m a big fan of pedometers (step counters). They give us a tangible way to measure how much we’re STEPPING. I have a lot of people who say they get a lot of exercise at work. My response is to challenge them to get a pedometer and actually measure how much they’re walking. Standing isn’t the same thing.
I was shocked at how much my activity level (i.e. step count) went down when I moved from the big office at State Road Family Practice to my little bitty office at Wellpointe. (If you’ve seen me at both offices you know what I mean!) I’ve had to be very intentional about going out and getting the steps I need.
Sitting still is not good for you. It alters where your body stores fat. It makes your inflammatory markers go up, which makes your joints hurt and increases your risk of a heart attack. It makes you fat. it makes your triglycerides and blood sugar go up.
Sitting is the new smoking. It’s bad. Don’t do it any more than you have to.
QUESTION: Do you spend more time sitting still than you should?