One of the most important scientific revelations of recent is the realization that sitting is clearly hazardous to our health. Because I want you to live a long, active, and productive life, I am determined to keep you abreast of the latest science on the perils of inactivity in hopes that you will ‘stand up’ to sitting. In an eye-opening recent investigation, researchers assessed how sedentary behavior (sitting) affected the metabolic health of individuals at risk for type 2 diabetes. For this study, over 800 high-risk adults wore highly sensitive accelerometers that accurately measured and continually tracked the time they spent being physically active and the time they spent not moving. Consistent with other recent studies, the investigators noted very strong associations between the time spent sitting and worsening metabolic health. In fact, a deterioration in metabolic health was noted across the board in relation to time spent sedentary including higher blood glucose levels, higher blood triglyceride levels, and lower HDL (good) cholesterol levels. As expected, the investigators also noted a positive association between the time spent moving and improvements in these same markers of metabolic health. However, after adjustment for the time spent sitting, there was no association between exercise/physical activity and improvements in metabolic health. In other words, prolonged sitting seemed to negate the expected benefits of physical activity.
Based on this report, avoiding prolonged sitting has an even greater impact on preventing type 2 diabetes vs. engaging in physical activity. Given that almost 40% of American adults are prediabetic and that over 50% of all adults sit more than eight hours a day, we need to get the word out that engaging in regular physical activity is simply not enough to maintain normal metabolic. In addition, we must also avoid prolonged sitting!
Here is a simple way to think about it: when the body stays still for too long, it thinks that it is dead and things just stop working properly. Click here for my best tips to stand up to sitting.