As highlighted in previous issues of the EnergyFirst newsletter, the health risks of prolonged sitting are now better understood. Evidence that sitting too long increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and premature death continues to pile up. Surprisingly, the risk is there even if a person meets recommended physical activity guidelines regularly.
Prolonged sitting is most commonly due to TV time, time sitting in automobiles, or time spent sitting on the job.
Although we aren't clear on exactly how sitting a lot contributes to such poor health, some research suggests that it harms sugar and fat metabolism. It has been suggested that an important enzyme involved in clearing the blood of fats (triglycerides) and producing healthy cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) is suppresed. Also, proper glucose metabolism and clearance of glucose from the bloodstream is reduced.
Stand Up for Your Health
According to a study published online in Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism, obese adults can benefit from short bouts of arm exercises during prolonged sitting to protect their metabolism.
In the study, obese adults were to either sit for a prolonged period of time (7.5 hours) or to intersperse their sitting time with five minutes of seated arm workouts every 30 minutes.
Researchers found that including seated arm exercises every 30 minutes was associated with less blood glucose levels and less insulin. In other words, these short bouts of arm movements helped protect their metabolism from further damage.
While these results are most significant for those who are struggling with bearing their weight, the principle can apply to all.
Finding ways to sit less or break up sitting time with short bouts of exercise can help reduce the risk of metabolic changes that can harm your health.
How will you sit less? Here are some ideas!
4 Ways to Sit Less
Walk around the house during television commercial breaks or engage in some arm exercises during the show or movie.
Drink more water, making more trips to the faucet, fridge, and restroom.
Park your car farther from your destination for some extra walking or get off of public transportation several stops earlier.
Take the stairs.
McCarthy, M., Edwardson, C. L., Davies, M. J., Henson, J., Rowlands, A., King, J., Bodicoat, D. H., Khunti, K. and Yates, T. (),
Breaking up sedentary time with seated upper body activity can regulate metabolic health in obese high risk adults: A randomised crossover trial. Diabetes Obes Metab. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/dom.13016