Is Sitting a Lethal Activity?

A recent article in the New York Times describes research by Dr. Levine (Mayo Clinic) identifying sitting as a “lethal” activity. Most people know that a sedentary lifestyle can lead to all kinds of health problems, but what I found interesting is that even the twice weekly aerobic classes doesn’t offset sedentary time as much as we would all like to believe.

Sitting, as it turns out, is an independent pathology. As Dr. Levine puts it, “being sedentary for nine hours a day at the office is bad for your health whether you go home and watch television afterward or hit the gym. It’s bad whether you are obese or thin”.

Marc Hamilton, an inactivity researcher at Pennington Biomedical Research Center adds that electrical activity in the muscles while seated goes “as silent as those of a dead horse” (of course that really hit home with me) causing a cascade of harmful metabolic effects including drops in insulin effectiveness, the ability to break down lipids and triglycerides, and levels of HDL (good cholesterol). Hamilton even studied young, fit and thin voluteers and recorded a 40 percent reduction in insulin uptake after only 24 hours of being sedentary.

Certainly exercising after a day of sitting is hugely better than sitting more when you get home; but this study calls for changes throughout the workday as well. Dr. Levine calls for consciously creating minor movements each day. Really DO get up every hour and move about, take the stairs, stand up when you talk on the phone or when you’re reading a document. Look for and then take advantage of opportunities to ingrain movement into every hour of the day — and then hit the gym or go for a walk or just keep MOVING when you’re at home.

For the full article go to http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/magazine/mag-17sitting-t.html

14 responses to “Is Sitting a Lethal Activity?”

  1. Sitting, as it turns out, is an independent pathology. As Dr. Levine puts it, “being sedentary for nine hours a day at the office is bad for your health whether you go home and watch television afterward or hit the gym. It’s bad whether you are obese or thin”.

  2. I think it is imperative that students incorporate exercise into their study regimes,it provides well needed recreation, a healthy heart rate and blood supply to the brain and there are so many ways to excercise if you think “out of the box. In the present society sedentary lifestyles are fostering obesity on a colossal scale worldwide and the sooner this trend is is stopped the better for education, health and society in general,

  3. Montanakay says:

    Very true! The rates of obesity and chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease in young people are a testiment to the serious health threat of being sedentary. The human body is 100% built for movement. Kay

  4. Kevin says:

    That was an interesting(and scary)article. Along with Susan’s comment above, it has me thinking about the class structure used in the school system-many hours of classes at a desk, with a single gym class a day or a few times a week.
    Besides being a bad schedule for health, it also starts to build poor exercise habits. I wonder if there is a better system?

  5. Matt says:

    If you will excuse a very poor attempt at a joke “I was (moved) by your article”, as this is a very serious subject, I could not agree more with the comments so far. Is sitting a lethal activity? for long periods of time I would say it’s not benefitial to our health, is it better to lay down?, or maybe meditate instead.

  6. Montanakay says:

    Id say its better to just move as much as possible. It seems to be beneficial (according to studies) if you just get up and move around every chance you get. Stand up to answer the phone, walk to the next office to talk to someone rather than on the phone, get up and stretch every hour – just remember to move!I spend a lot of time on the computer and try to make myself get up and walk around every hour or so. Always feel better if I do.
    Thanks for you comments. Kay

  7. Sitting is very hard on your back! When working at office, I try to get up and walk around every half hour.

  8. buy plan-b says:

    Trackback was created to this entry: […]Is Sitting a Lethal Activity? A recent article in the New York Times describes research by Dr. Levine (Mayo Clinic) identifying sitting as a lethal activity. Most people know that a sedentary lifestyle can lead to all kinds of health…[…]

  9. I agree with Kevin that this all starts in our school system. not all of them even have a required gym class for every student.
    That childhood obesity is a huge problem in the US is, as a result, not surprising. Unfortunately if something does not change, as these obese kids get older they will be puttin additional strain on the healthcare system to look after them as they will be suffering with all sorts of dieases.
    I hope those in the proper places are working on doing something about this.

  10. Montanakay says:

    It really is about creating lifelong habits that support, rather than diminish, well-being and vitality. And it does needto start inthe schools. Unfortunately, when funding is limited one of the first things to go isphysical/health education. Kay

  11. That is good advice about incorporating some activity into every hour of the day rather than remaining seated. I didn’t realize how harmful sitting can be. It’s scary.

  12. Interesting article. I’ve heard that sitting for long periods of time can cause blood clots, but this article made me even more afraid of sitting down for too long! Thanks.

  13. Montanakay says:

    Yes, I am standing up right now as I type this message. I have two stations in my office so I can alternate between sitting and standing and find that I feel much better overall. Thanks for reading! Kay
    Kay Van Norman, President
    Brilliant Aging
    http://www.kayvannorman.com
    Authorof Exercise Wellness for OlderAdults (2010) Human Kinetics Publishers The Medias Portrayalof Ageing a chapter in GlobalPopulation Ageing: Peril or Promise? (2012) Global Forum on Ageing

  14. I agree. Healthy lifestyle such as well balanced meals and regular exercise are the proven ways to really lose weight. I just sent this post to a bunch of my friends as I agree with most of what you’re saying here and the way you’ve presented it is awesome.

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