Off your rockers: too much sitting is harmful

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96937598Here at ACSH, we ve said it numerous times: prolonged sitting isn t good for the body. As if we needed more proof to get moving, several recent studies point to the health risks of too much sitting.

The chair is out to kill us, says James Levine, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine.

Even after controlling for diet, exercise habits and other variables, studies in the past have found those who spent most time sitting have increased risks of diabetes and cardiovascular events and deaths. One study in particular published in the journal Diabetologia in November of 2012 found a 112 percent increase of diabetes among those who spent more time sitting than standing.

Guilty. While most of us spend hours on end working at our desks, our chances of getting a promotion may increase with a side of heart disease and/or diabetes. But it is not intuitively obvious why this should be.

One of the reasons: Sitting is lousy for calorie burn, but quite good at
increasing insulin resistance, hence, the body has more trouble metabolizing sugar. And if you think that vigorous morning exercise can offset the effects of sitting the rest of the day, you re wrong. Studies have shown that exercise is not alone a ticket to a healthy body. Once the calories are used up, they re gone, but it doesn t take much for other beneficial effects of exercise to wear off. A 2008 study in the journal Diabetes found lipase production can go down by 90 percent within hours, an enzyme responsible for turning bad cholesterol into good.

But aside from wheeling in a treadmill in your office, or investing in a standing desk, there are simpler steps you can take i.e. taking the time to include more steps in your day. Experts say even a two-minute walk every 20 minutes can help improve your glucose metabolism. And if you spent the last 20 minutes in your chair reading this article, that time is now.

ACSH s Ariel Savransky comments. These studies definitely point to the importance of incorporating movement into your routine throughout the day and not just during your workout. And there are very simple ways to make sure you get up and walk around a bit. Set a timer on your phone and do a lap around the office, walk to the bathroom, step outside for a second. But make sure not to forget about the importance of that morning workout, as it s still beneficial for overall health.