Do you sit in an office chair or on your couch for more than six hours a day? If so, here are some disturbing facts: Your risk of heart disease has increased by up to 64%. You’re shaving off seven years of quality life. You’re also more at risk for certain types of cancer. Simply put, sitting all day is killing you. That’s the bad news. The good news is that this is able to be counteracted no matter how lazy you are.
Our bodies weren’t made to sit all day. Sitting for long periods of time, even with exercise, has a negative effect on our health. What’s worse, many of us sit for up to 15 hours a day if most of our time is spent in the car, office chair, car again and couch until we go to bed.
Immediately after sitting down:
As soon as you sit down, the electrical activity in your muscles slows down and your metabolism adjusts accordingly to only burn roughly one calorie per minute. This is 1/3 of how much you would be burning if up walking. A major cause of Type 2 diabetes is from the inability to uptake glucose in insulin–this is reduced by 40% after sitting for only 24 hours.
After 2 weeks of sitting more than 6 hours a day:
Within five days of changing to a sedentary lifestyle, your body increases its store of fatty molecules, LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), and insulin resistance. This means your muscles aren’t taking in fat and your blood sugar levels go up, putting you at risk for weight gain. After just 2 weeks, your muscles begin to atrophy and your VO2 max (max oxygen consumption) drops. This decrease in cardiorespiratory fitness will show itself when you are attempting to climb stairs or walk the dog. Even if you are working out every day, this deterioration begins the second you stop moving.
This trend continues, and the effects of sitting begin to manifest and worsen. Women can lose 1% of bone mass per year by sitting more than 6 hours a day. I know this looks bleak and unavoidable if you have a 9-5 desk job and intend to for the next several years, but here are some strategies to counteract the repercussions of being sedentary.
How to remedy the situation:
1. Make sure to stand once an hour
This one isn’t about working out, which is positive and necessary in its own right. It’s about creating bursts (even if 5 minutes) of moderate activity throughout the day and giving your body a break from sitting. Moderate activity is equivalent to a brisk walk. Yard work or cleaning your house counts as long as it gets you moving. When I had an office job, I would take a coffee/water and bathroom break each hour to give me a reason to get up and out of the chair. For these intermittent breaks, you don’t have to do what people think of as exercise.
2. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day
The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate activity per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous. 30 minutes a day, 5 days per week of moderate activity is ideal. To facilitate lean muscle growth and improvements in bone density, adding in 2 days per week of moderate to high intensity strength training is recommended.
Even with these changes, you will still have tightness and weakness from staying in one position for an extended period of time, so make sure to stretch and perform mobility exercises when at the gym or relaxing at home!
Source: MJ Fitnatic