You sit on the drive to work. You sit for a million plus hours at work. You get back in your car for the daily drive back home, where you will inevitably spend at least another 1-2 hours sitting, and that’s just me being conservative. I’m not the best role model either. After 5:00 PM, my cup o’ care is pretty much empty, and I start nest building on my couch like a tall, lanky magpie.
“Sitting is the new smoking” has been the anti-sit slogan for a while now. If you haven’t heard it before, just Google it. There are a million articles and sources out there that are looking to tell you what you’ve already known since elementary school health class. We get it. Sitting sucks. The problem has now been thoroughly identified. What you don’t see often though are articles that talk about solutions to the problem, or how those proposed solutions may or may not actually help. The New York Times recently published an article regarding a study on the effects of sitting on active people. The goal of the study, published in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, was to see if an active lifestyle offset the effects of extensive sitting, and, if so, how much of an impact such a lifestyle actually had in that respect.
The study was conducted with a small group of male volunteers at the University of Texas at Austin over a period of eight days. Four of those days were very active days, and four of them were “sedentary” days. During the active days, the subjects walked an average of 17,000 steps a day and only sat for around eight hours a day on average. Sedentary days obviously involved more sitting, somewhere in the neighborhood of 14 hours on average. During the course of the study, the subjects were subjected to a specialized workout and diet which allowed the researchers to measure fluctuations in triglycerides, the fats that enter your bloodstream after meals and have been associated with heart disease.
What was found over the course of the study was that excessive sitting led to the men essentially building a “resistance” to exercise. The lack of activity changed the subjects’ physiology in such a way that their bodies were no longer able to metabolize fat effectively through just exercise. The researchers theorize that sitting effectively blocks the impacts of working-out.
To be fair, this is a preliminary study. Future experiments are needed to find the actual mechanisms at work in all of this and the same testing needs to be conducted on a wider range of people. However, this is just another nudge telling us all to sit less and incorporate as much movement as possible into the work day. I happen to know a few office products that can help with that. These UPLIFT Desks have been all the rage lately.