The average time spent sitting is around 9.3 hours per day compared to just 7.7 hours spent sleeping.
The increase in the amount of time spent on our posteriors is largely due to the shift in the type of work that we, as a society, now do.
Where we were once known as a nation of labourers and tradesmen, we are now known for our savvy in computers and I.T.
This however, comes at a price, and that price is long hours spent sitting in front of a screen.
Just recently, researchers have reported that sitting for long hours can contribute to:
Mental health issues
A higher risk of death from heart disease and other causes
A higher risk of being disabled
The new studies add even more weight to earlier research suggesting that too much sitting is bad for you, even if you get regular exercise.
They also say we may need to think about sitting and exercise as two separate behaviours, each contributing on its own to our health.
So while that 1-hour jog is great for you, it may not undo the 8 hours sitting at your desk.
The length of time spent sitting has also been linked with high blood pressure, obesity, bad cholesterol, and too much belly fat.
One possibility: Sitting for a long time causes muscles to burn less fat and blood to flow more sluggishly. Both can increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and other problems.
In some cases, it’s still unclear which way the link goes, says Barry Braun, PhD, director of the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. “People who sit the most are more likely to be obese,” he says. “Are people obese because they sit too much, or do they sit too much because they are obese?”
You might also think that sitting would reduce appetite due to your inactivity, but research has also found this to be largely untrue.
A team of researchers assigned people to sit a lot one day and to stand a lot on another day. Each time, the researchers studied how it affected their appetite. ”Going from active to sitting doesn’t lower your appetite or your energy intake, prolonged sitting, may trigger us to eat more than we should, leading to weight gain”.
Research is also asking if exercise can balance out the ill effects that sitting is having on our health.
Jacqueline Kerr, PhD says it may help people to think about being active and sitting as two separate ways to improve or harm your health.
“Does exercise compensate for a bad night’s sleep?” ”So why should exercise compensate for the fact that you sit all day?”
It’s an interesting idea that shouldn’t be ignored, in my humble opinion.
We are seeing a change in people’s body shapes.
I am seeing men more and more with the new ‘skinny fat’ body type.
Someone who is ‘skinny fat’ usually have normal arms and legs with all the fat being deposited around the trunk of the body, especially the abdominal region. It is quite simply the most unhealthy body type to have, you actually have a LOWER life expectancy than someone who is obese.
So, what can you do to help?
Use a standing desk at work. More workplaces are warming to the idea. Change social norms. At a meeting, you might explain, “I am going to take a standing break.”
Give yourself reminders to sit less; At home, consider a TV commercial your signal to get out of your chair briefly. At work, use a smaller coffee cup or glass so your trips for refills will be more frequent. Get up and move around every half hour or so.
Once people sit less, they often are open to the idea of moving more and to being more active. #TrainSmart
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