“Come on in, have a seat.”
We’ve all invited friends to “sit a spell”, we’ve motioned people to chairs at the start of business meetings, and we’ve told others to sit down before telling them something we knew they’d not want to hear. Who knew how dangerous that kindness actually was?
Studies done in the USA, England, and Australia are showing some scary results. Sitting around really isn’t good for you. Yeah, we know, we know… too much TV can lead to weight problems and beer bellies, blah, blah, blah. But now we have proof that … well…here are some facts from the various studies you’d probably, if you’re like me, rather not know. So, are you sitting down? (Er… sorry.)
As soon as you sit down:
- Electrical activity in the leg muscles shuts off (muscle contractions stimulate blood flow and remove toxins via the lymphatic system, contractions also help clear triglycerides and glucose from our bloodstream)
- Calorie burning drops to about 1 calorie per minute
- Enzymes that help break down fat drop 90%
- After 2 hours, your “good” cholesterol drops by 20%
- After extended sitting insulin effectiveness drops 20%
During the studies people who spent more than 2 hours a day in front of the TV or more than 4 hours a day in front of a computer (yay, computers win!) saw death rates go up by almost 50% and they had 125% more heart “events”.
Those who sit 3 hours or more watching TV are 64% more likely to die from heart disease than those who spend less time. Of the people sitting more than 3 hours in front of the TV, the people that exercised regularly were just as overweight as those that didn’t exercise at all.
One of the studies showed each extra hour watching TV equaled an 11% higher death risk.
Adults who sit for more than 11 hours a day (combined total home, work, driving) had a 40% increased risk of death (from any cause) within the next 3 years compared to people who sit less than 4 hours a day! Scared yet?
And now you’re thinking, "Yeah I sit a lot but I also work out 3 times a week; I’m doing okay." Yeah, well, no. You’re not. The studies are showing that sitting is sitting is sitting – frantic bouts of exercise (while healthy for other things) had no impact in these studies; what people did around all that sitting didn’t change the death stats.
In an unrelated study excess sitting was linked to causing up to 43,000 cases of colon cancer and 49,000 cases of breast cancer (American Institute for Cancer Research).
Bottom line? In the past humans didn’t sit much (gathering food and wood, plowing, hunting, riding horses, building our homes, walking to work). These days we sit at work, sit in the car, sit at the restaurant, sit for coffee, sit in front of computers, sit in front of movies, sit reading, sit in front of the TV, sit while studying, sit waiting on doctor’s appointments, at hair salons, renewing our license, and trying on shoes. And then we retire (we hope) so we can sit down and rest already! We are spending our lives on our backsides, only interspersed with shorts moments of moving on to the next sit.
Get up! Every 20-30 minutes, stand up, walk around the room, jump up and down, just do something!
I’m going for a walk.
-Mona Sims CNPA