Sitting is killing you

An interesting reflection by Crossfit trainer Colin Mennis

No Sit

As I write this I am standing at my kitchen counter as you read this I want you to stand up and even walk around, it could save your life (unless you are outside, then don’t)

Recent studies including some historical reviews of lifestyle changes have concluded that inactivity is killing us. In fact it is regarded in some circles as the most serious threat to our health, more than sugar, fat, smoking and alcohol.  Just take a look these facts:

  1. Sitting for 6 hours a day will increase your chance of death within 15 years by 40% compared to someone who sits less than 3 hours per day. EVEN if you exercise.
  2. Studies have shown obese people sit 2.5 hours more than thin people per day.
  3. Despite more people exercising than ever before obesity has doubled since the 1980’s. Our sitting time has increased by nearly 10%

Studies have discovered some amazing facts about cellular damage due to inactivity. After just 7 hours of sitting we show the first early signs of insulin sensitivity. Our calorific use can drop as low as 1 per minute. Fat fighting enzymes drop by as much as 90%. There is twice as much cardiovascular disease among those with sitting jobs than those with standing jobs.  A great study on the old London buses clearly demonstrated this back in the late sixties comparing the drivers health with the conductors.  And I will repeat exercising regularly will not help you.

As health professionals we advise exercise and eat less and well for weight loss and better health.  Homeostasis, what a pain. Studies have shown that people who take up exercise and/or diet for weight loss become less active throughout their day. They start sitting and lounging around for longer. Yes they can feel overtly tired and feel the need to rest but the body is also working away against your ambitions. It does not like change and you will subconsciously do less and less to maintain the calorie in/out balance. Some people have even been shown to put on weight while dieting because they are burning so few calories!

As health professionals we need to be informing clients and making them constantly reflect on their activity levels during the day.  Maybe add an activity diary to that food diary. Those clever little wrist bands that monitor movement, I thought they were gimmicks, but maybe not? People need to know to stand whenever they can. Configure their desk so they can stand more, use stairs, walk up escalators and stand up when commuting.

I exercise regularly with biking, running, strength and metcon training but none of that will undo the damage caused by the hours on end I sit at my desk or on the tube. So I have made changes, you should too.

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