Posted by: eveyoga | April 20, 2011

Not Sitting, Moving

I’ve discovered I spend way too much time at the computer. This might surprise you, as I am a yoga teacher. I should know better and do better.

It takes me 30-60 minutes to compose a post for this blog. Snappy and short as they are, they take some crafting. I spend other time sending and receiving emails, and I’m embarrassed to say, playing Scrabble and dogpaddling through Facebook.

Imagine my horror when I read this (forwarded email!) from my husband:

Well, it’s official: Sitting all day is bad for you. It makes you fat. It makes you weak. It makes you more likely to keel over dead.

How do we know? Because “inactivity researchers” have finally cracked the code. Specifically, they have figured out why some people get fat when they eat too much and other people don’t get fat, even when they eat the same amount. The people who get fat get fat because they sit around all day. The people who don’t get fat don’t sit around as much.

Importantly, the difference between the fatties and the non-fatties in the study had nothing to do with exercise. None of the folks in the “inactivity” study were allowed to exercise. The folks who didn’t get fat didn’t exercise–they just didn’t spend as much time sitting. Instead, they stood. They walked. They took stairs instead of elevators. They fidgeted. And sitting doesn’t just make you fat. It makes you sick, too.

Why is sitting so bad for you? According to James Vlahos in the New York Times, here’s what happens when you sit: Electrical activity in the muscles drops — leading to a cascade of harmful metabolic effects. Your calorie-burning rate immediately plunges to about one per minute, a third of what it would be if you got up and walked. Insulin effectiveness drops within a single day, and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes rises. So does the risk of being obese. The enzymes responsible for breaking down lipids and triglycerides — for “vacuuming up fat out of the bloodstream,” as Hamilton puts it — plunge, which in turn causes the levels of good (HDLcholesterol to fall.

Recent studies have examined how rapidly inactivity can cause harm. In rats who were forced to be inactive, for example, the leg muscles responsible for standing almost immediately lost more than 75 percent of their ability to remove harmful lipo-proteins from the blood. To show that the ill effects of sitting could have a rapid onset in humans too, 14 young, fit and thin volunteers were recruited
and recorded a 40 percent reduction in insulin’s ability to uptake glucose in the subjects — after 24 hours of being sedentary.

Over a lifetime, sitting really can kill you. Men who sit 6 hours a day are 20% more likely to die that men who sit 3 hours a day. Women who sit 6 hours a day are 40% more likely to die

And, you can’t counter the harmful effects of sitting by exercising once in a while. You actually have to stop sitting.  Or at least start moving around more.

Click here for more information on inactivity.

And, get moving!

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Responses

  1. What if you stand at your computer?? I stand at the kitchen bench with my laptop and my husband is currently building an office downstairs that I have a standing desk??? Does this make a difference? Will I live….longer?

    • I think going upside down daily is probably a good balance for standing computer work. Get the blood going the other way if your legs get tired from being on them. I’m quite sure, Genevieve, you will long and healthily!
      XO E


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