Posted on Feb 03, 2019, 6 p.m.
Being active and working out are key to achieving optimal health, but you should also try to stand, stretch, and move around more during the day, especially if you are tied to a desk job.
Sitting for hours on end can increase risks of many ailments including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. However you can lower the risks of developing these conditions by standing and moving more every day, even if you have a regular exercise program, because routine movement during the day will add to those benefits. This was the conclusion from researchers at the American Cancer Society who conducted a large 14 year long term study of 123,000 middle aged adults which was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
Women who sat the most were found to have had 34% greater risk of dying from any cause compared to those who sat the least; and men who sat the most were found to have had a 17% great risk of dying from any cause. The difference became more apparent when exercise was factored in: the most sedentary women were close to twice as likely to die from any cause; and the most sedentary men were found to be 50% more likely to die from any cause as compared to more active counterparts.
Possible explanation for prolonged sitting having harmful effects may be due to sitting down relaxing the largest muscles, which when relaxed take up very little glucose from the blood, raising risks for developing type 2 diabetes; and triglyceride enzymes that break down blood fats plummet causing good cholesterol levels to fall which increases risk of heart disease.
Everyday movement reduces risk of many ailments and helps to burn calories. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis such as carrying the laundry up the stairs, taking out the garbage, dancing to your favorite song, or standing in que at a shop adds to the energy you burn throughout the day. Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic measured NEAT in lean and obese subjects who all had similar jobs and were forbidden to exercise during the study. The difference between the groups were that lean people moved more than the obese people who sat more by an average of 2.5 hours more per day; changing behavior to stand and move around more could result in burning 350 more calories per day.
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