We’ve got one more study from 2014 proving that prolonged sitting is incredibly detrimental to your overall health, regardless of if you are fit and regularly exercise, or are a couch potato that hates lifting a limb. Whether you sit in front of a desk for eight hours a day, in front of a television, or both, you set yourself up for increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, insomnia, arthritis, certain types of cancer, and even premature death. A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine establishes a link between prolonged sitting and two biological markers of cardiovascular disease.
Don’t Just Sit There!
Researchers analyzed the results of the 2004-2005 AusDiab (Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle) study made up of 3086 Australian adults. Results showed that two heart disease risk factors correlated with prolonged sitting: fibrinogen and C reactive protein. Fibrinogen measures clotting tendency and C reactive protein measures inflammation.
Clotting + Inflammation = Increased Risk of Heart Disease!
Sitting time significantly increased fibrinogen and C reactive protein in the individuals studied. Furthermore, risk was not mitigated by physical activity. Researchers concluded:
“In this large sample of Australian adults, overall daily sitting time and TV viewing time were positively associated with plasma fibrinogen and hsCRP [high sensitivity C reactive protein], independent of LTPA [leasure time physical activity].”
When we sit, our skeletal muscles don’t use as much fuel. The extra glucose builds up in our bloodstream, instigating obesity and type 2 diabetes. Blood flow to the legs is reduced, and blood pools in our lower extremities, suppressing the production of compounds like nitric oxide which help prevent heart attacks.
The harmful effects of sitting extend to our mental health as well. Less movement means less blood flow to the brain, less oxygenation, and less glucose metabolism, which effects mood, memory, and more.
We’ve already seen that an hour of exercise after eight hours of sitting doesn’t reverse the negative health effects. Intermittent movement, however, has demonstrated benefit. A study in the Journal of Applied Physiology showed that 2 minutes of light activity every 20 minutes activated genes that help promote insulin sensitivity and heart health. Another study suggests that 10 three-minute walks conducted throughout an eight-hour workday can improve plasma lipids and hypertension indicators. That’s just 30 minutes of walking a day!
So by all means keep up your exercise program, but add some intermittent movement into the mix throughout your day to keep your blood flowing, your blood sugar levels regulated, and your limbs supple.