Factor 75 Journalist
You’ve heard “sitting is the new smoking.” It’s a pretty upsetting claim. Especially because you’re sitting while you read this. I’m sitting while I write this. Most of us have jobs that require a tons of sitting. Meetings. Emails. Meetings. Emails. Sitting. Sitting. Sitting. It’s a bummer. But you’re healthy, right? You read this blog! You eat clean! You drink green juice on occasion. You hit the gym twice a week – certainly that counteracts all the sitting.
Well, actually, no.
Sitting is worse for you that you think. And even if you’re active, you’re not safe. Here’s what you need to know, and how to save yourself.
- It reduces circulation, slowing blood flow and nutrients to key parts of the body
- It depresses LPP1.
This key gene (LPP1=lipid phosphate phosphatase-1) prevents blood clotting and inflammation. When you sit for long periods of time, production of this enzyme slows, and stays suppressed, even after exercise. Here’s the study.
-Dr. Genevieve Healy for Runner’s World
- It lowers serotonin: slow circulation means fewer feel-good hormones like serotonin reach the brain.
–Exercise & Sport Sciences Reviews
- Heart disease
–Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise
–Journal of the National Cancer Institute
–American Journal of Preventative Medicine
You Exercise? You’re Still Not SafeIn a 2012 study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, researchers reported people sit on average more than nine hours a day, whether or not they exercised.
And on days that you exercise, you’re more likely to spend more time sitting after you’re done at the gym. Runner’s World reports that, “people are about 30 percent less active overall on days when they exercise versus days they don’t.”
“It is not good enough to exercise for 30 minutes a day and be sedentary for 23 and half hours.”
-Dr. David Alter, on Science Daily
In a 12-year study of more than 17,000 Canadians, researchers found that the more time people spent sitting, the earlier they died—regardless of age, body weight, or how much they exercised. MedPage Today put it succinctly: “mortality is higher in those who spend a lot of time in chairs, irrespective of exercise.”
Part II: How to Stop Sitting So MuchIf you’re at a computer all day, the ultimatum “stop sitting” seems discouraging, and also impossible. Standing desks are nice and all, but there’s no way you can expense report that. So where do you start?
Make Tiny ChangesStart with a microhabit. It’s so easy you can’t not do it.
Dr. Alter, author of this meta-analysis, told Science Daily, we need to decrease sedentary time by two to three hours in your 12-hour day. Here are his suggestions:
- Stand up or move for one to three minutes every half hour.
- Stand during commercials when watching TV.
- Track your steps (with Fitbit or similar) to quantify your progress and stay motivated.
Stop Stressing About Exercise…Just MoveThe key to not sitting is movement, not gym time. We’ve already learned 30 minutes at the gym isn’t enough to counteract your desk job. Instead, just move around more. Tom Rath, a leading author on optimizing life for health and happiness, has some great advice.
“Stop worrying about exercise. Sitting less and taking a few more steps each day is a better place to start.”
In an interview with Daniel Pink, Rath recommends:
- Pace when you’re on the phone.
- Stand when you’re on your laptop (ex: at the coffee shop or counter top).
- Choose the first parking spot you see, instead of circling the lot for a closer one.
Walk for Two MinutesTake a two-minute walk. Yep, just two minutes.
This study found that participants who replaced two minutes of sitting with a short walk or stroll decreased risk of death by 33 percent.
That sounds like a microhabit we can all commit to, right?
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Factor 75 journalist & blog strategist. Nutrition science geek. Cyclofeminist.