When you’re seated, electrical activity in your muscles slows down — especially in the powerful muscles of the legs and lower body. This causes your body’s calorie-burning rate to drop to about one per minute. That’s just a third of the rate you’d reach while walking around. After just a day, inactivity lowers insulin effectiveness and increases your risk of Type 2 diabetes and obesity. One study of overall sitting time in US adults found that women who sat for more than 6 hours a day had a 40% higher death rate. Another study of television viewing time in Australia concluded that for each additional hour of television a person sat and watched per day their risk of dying rose by 11%. Prolonged sitting was also found to double the risk of diabetes and heart disease — a risk that wasn’t eliminated by regular exercise. Authors of the diabetes study said that the average American adult spends 50% to 70% of their day sitting.
How to fix this? If you have a desk job, get up and take a short, brisk walk every hour. Instead of always emailing, walk around your office to talk to coworkers. Take the stairs and use a restroom on a different floor. If you’re willing to make an investment, there are standing desks for sale (or just pile up books on your desk for a do-it-yourself fix) and even treadmill desks. After work, park a little farther from the store on those errands and enjoy the extra exercise. Rise, shine and start moving!
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JoAnn V. Pinkerton, MD, NCMP