The Health Nut Blog

The Dangers of Being Sedentary

by Jessica Springer | Dec 07, 2020

Source: Weight Matters Magazine Fall 2019 article Take A Stand to Actively Improve Your Life by Roger E. Adams, PhD, CISSN, ACE-CPT

Image of Sneakers, set of small dumbbell weights and water bottleMany of our jobs involve sitting in meetings or behind a desk 40 hours a week. If we add together work time, screen time, and time spent sleeping, we can see that time spent moving is on the decline.

Simply put, excessive sitting is bad for our health. Here is what happens when we sit too much:

  • The activity in our muscles greatly decreases. Among other things, it can slow our metabolism.
  • Our calorie-burning rate drops to about one calorie per minute. This is a third of what it would be if you walked.
  • The insulin in our bodies becomes less effective even after a single day, and our risk of developing type 2 diabetes rises.
  • Our ability to break down lipids and triglycerides drops. This causes our levels of good cholesterol (HDL) to fall.

Being sedentary is bad for everyone

Prolonged amounts of uninterrupted sitting negatively impact our overall health, even in relatively healthy adults. A growing number of studies suggest we should be working hard to reduce sitting time and find ways to add activity into each day.

Even healthy young adults show a decrease in their insulin’s ability to work after only 24 hours of sedentary time. While we know that exercise is NOT the perfect cure for wiping out the effects of sedentary behavior, movement throughout the day is the best option to keep these effects at bay. This doesn’t mean you need to run a marathon, but you do have to move more.

Movement matters

Movement is the key word here, so simply standing will not repair the effects of sitting. Follow the 6/60 rule: walk for six minutes every 60 minutes during otherwise sedentary time. Research tells us that moving 10% more improves how glucose and insulin work in our bodies and can also lower our risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Don’t overthink it! Small, simple changes can create big results. Just look around for inspiration to sneak activity into your day:

  • Take the stairs on short trips instead of the elevator.
  • Park further away and increase your step count.
  • Walk over and talk with your co-workers.
  • Use electronic reminders to increase your activity.