February 27, 2017. Ladies, gentleman, children of all ages. The evidence keeps piling up. Sitting for more than an hour or so is bad for you. And the evidence piles up around your waist.
If you sit at a desk and/or in front of the TV for long stretches of time, it’s time to change your behavior. It’s important to change your behavior. I’ll deliver the latest bad news in a few paragraphs. To bring you to the edge of your seat and then scare you right out of it. But first, the good news.
You’ll feel better if you get up and do something for one minute every hour or two. Feel better while you’re doing that something. Feel better all day. Long term, you’ll prevent a wide range of diseases and unhealthy conditions. The best news: you can accomplish this so quickly and easily. 1 minute at a time. 1 minute every hour or two.
With active but not strenuous exercises you can do at your desk or in your living room. In cars, planes, buses and trains. With BetterCheaperSlower exercises like these:
Bad News. If you just sit there.
The news that got me out of my desk chair every hour on the hour came a few years ago: even if you exercise vigorously for an hour, five times a week, too much sitting still significantly increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome risk factors, and obesity.
Studies at the molecular level found that “Middle-aged men who had to sit many more hours per week and obtain less physical activity had greater risk for premature myocardial infarction [heart attack] and mortality from coronary artery disease. These general findings were subsequently confirmed in studies in middle-aged women and an elderly group.” (American Diabetes Association, “Role of Low Energy Expenditure and Sitting in Obesity”.
Now we have research that explains, at least in part, why this happens. The Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism recently published “Prolonged Sitting Negatively Affects the Postprandial Plasma Triglyceride Lowering Effect of Acute Exercise”. Translation: If you spend most of the day on your butt, even “acute exercise” won’t help you. All that sitting makes you immune to its benefits. But if you spend less time sitting, a vigorous treadmill workout lowers your bad triglycerides even after you eat like a pig.
The researchers looked at a class of triglycerides – unhealthy, heart disease-related fats – that appear in your bloodstream after meals. Their subjects were healthy males in their 20s. After four sedentary days (14 hours sitting daily), they ate a high-sugar breakfast. After four more days with 14 hours of chair time, they ate the same breakfast and ran for one hour on a treadmill. The treadmill run did not lower their triglycerides.
Finally, they interrupted with short walks four more days and spent only 8.4 hours sitting. Then they repeated the breakfast and the treadmill workout – after the workout, their triglyceride levels were significantly lowered. As the researchers put it, “prolonged sitting over several days was sufficient to amplify PPL [the post-meal triglyceride levels] and to abolish the beneficial effect of acute exercise on lowering PPL and raising fat oxidation, regardless of energy balance. This underscores the importance of limiting sitting time even in people who have exercised.” So Don’t Just Sit There.
Now we have studies about children and adolescents, too. “Based on this systematic review of 232 studies, sedentary behaviour (assessed primarily through increased TV viewing) for more than 2 hours per day was associated with unfavourable body composition, decreased fitness, lowered scores for self-esteem and pro-social behaviour and decreased academic achievement in school-aged children and youth (5-17 years). This was true for all study designs, across all countries, using both direct and indirect measurements, and regardless of participant sample size.” (Int’l Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity)
I rest my case. Please don’t rest yours on a chair. C’mon, stand up. Do your 1-minute BCS exercises. Walk around. So your “acute” treadmill exercise delivers maximum benefit. No treadmill? Walk in place and watch a Treadmill Trails video.