Exercise More or Sit Less?

Conventional wisdom tells us that we don’t move enough, but could it be that we sit too much?

Is it the lack of time spent being active, or the excess time spent being inactive?

More than likely it’s a combination of the two, but research over the last few years makes a pretty compelling case for reducing our sitting time as much as we’re increasing our movement time.

For instance, one paper from Kansas State University (KSU) in 2013 concluded that:

Those who sit 4 hours or more each day are at a significantly higher risk of developing cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

The disturbing takeaway being, that 4hrs of sitting wasn’t necessarily the cutoff for an increased risk.  As the likelihood of developing a degenerative disease continued to increase on a consistent curve from 6-8hrs, and 8hrs and beyond.

Similarly, In February of this year, Northwestern University found that:

If you’re over 60 years of age, every additional hour spent sitting doubles your risk of becoming disabled.

The surprising part being that “any additional exercise” had no impact on disability risk.  Suggesting that it’s not necessarily a question of active vs. inactive, but rather our total time spent sitting.

And sure, one could argue that those who sit all day have poor eating and lifestyle habits (ex: sleep).  Whether that’s on the road and working night shifts, like truck drivers or police officers – or on the couch watching NetFlix, playing video games, and eating junk food. HOWEVER, it was clearly mentioned in the KSU study that:

The probability of chronic disease remained high regardless of the body mass index.

Meaning, that the increased risk is not because of the specific lifestyle habits or other outside factors of the individual, but rather the actual practice of sitting. And suggesting that EVERYone should be looking to sit less – regardless of their current health and body composition, or current diet and exercise habits.


Could it be time to make stand-up desks mandatory?

There’s no doubt we can all make an effort to increase our standing or walking outside of the hours we’re expected to sit – like parking a little further away, taking the stairs, or getting a sit-to-stand desk. Although, the real game-changer appears to be avoiding chronic periods of sitting with frequent activity breaks (at least when it comes to glycemic control).

For instance, a 2013 study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a 39% improvement in glucose and a 26% decrease in insulin from activity breaks throughout the day, and showed that:

Those who regularly stood up and moved around frequently were better off than those taking part in 30min of exercise per day– by 37 and 18%!

Which not only reiterates the fact that you can’t out-exercise your crappy desk job, but implying that there’s need to be a consistent effort to get up and move around throughout the day.  Whether that’s walking around while you’re on the phone, walking to a co-worker/employees desk instead of emailing them, doing a lap of the office every few hours, or taking your 1-on-1 meetings on-the-go.

Stay Lean (and stand up)!
Coach Mike


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