Last week, some of us at Human Solution attended a live webinar entitled "Get Up – Your Life Might Depend On It." The Key Speaker was James A. Levine M.D., Ph.D., from the Mayo Clinic. Like many of the webinars that we sit in on, this one outlined several of the dangers of sitting all day. This one was a bit more terrifying that the others I’ve attended.
First, Dr. Levine introduced a new villain: The Chairman, or Chair Man as I like to call him. He represents the faceless figure that has steered society into a more sedentary work environment and encouraged sitting for eight hours a day or more. Chair Man apparently is partially responsible for the obesity epidemic, as well as the drastic increase in diabetes that our nation is currently experiencing.
Next, the webinar talked about and displayed the results and graphs behind a handful of studies to show the connection between sitting and weight gain/obesity. A lot of this was pretty standard fare for webinars about our society needing to stand up more, but, one study in particular stuck with me. Apparently, brain activity in lab rats decreased when they were less active, and, even more disturbing, their offspring also showed decreased brain activity and were more lethargic than the offspring of their more active counterparts.
The webinar was not all doom and gloom, though. Dr. Levine did outline some tips how to fight back against Chair Man. First, he pointed out that actual energy intake has not really increased that much over the past century, but that our energy expenditure has plummeted. This is because we are not burning as much of it off with our Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenises, or "NEAT."
NEAT is the energy we use for everything we do that is not eating, sleeping or (of course) exercise. Dr. Levine pointed out that, in generations past, people’s work generally required far more physical energy to accomplish than what most of us can burn of while sitting at a desk. In fact, jobs in agriculture and construction once accounted for more than half the jobs in the country, and, doing that work, people could burn up to 2,700 calories a day!
Chair Man is much stronger today than in previous generations, but fighting him and increasing your NEAT is as easy as standing up, with a standing desk like the UPLIFT 900. Standing while you work can burn up to 50 calories an hour. Sure, 400 calories a day seems like a small number in comparison, but it is 20% of a 2,000 calorie diet. And the benefits don’t stop there. Dr. Levine also presented a study that showed that students in a classroom with standing desks exhibited a 10% increase in grade averages.
Any movement at all during your day can increase your NEAT. And increasing your NEAT has some pretty neat benefits, such as reducing the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Something as simple as walking for 15 minutes after a meal can cut a person’s blood sugar level increase (which normally spikes after we eat) by nearly 50%.
For more information on increasing your NEAT and the dangers of Chair Man, you can check out Dr. Levin’s book: Get Up! Why Your Chair is Killing You and What You Can Do About It.
Visit TheHumanSolution.com for everything you need to fight Chair Man with a sit/stand desk.