We all know we're supposed to exercise 5 times a week for at least 30 minutes. Hitting at least that moderate level of exercise intensity is critical for our heart health. It decreases blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, and the risk of developing diabetes and cancer. Exercise also helps us maintain a heathy weight. But, it turns out, there's more to the story than just exercise...
Dr. James Levine, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic, has been studying N.E.A.T., or non-exercise activity thermogenesis, for over 20 years, and talks about our population suffering from "sitting disease." In one study, he used motion sensing underwear and found leaner people moved 150 minutes more per day than the overweight subjects, burning more 350 calories.
P.T. Katzmarzyk studied over 17,000 Canadians and found that sitting is an independent risk factor of exercise. As the amount of sitting increased, so did the risk of cancer, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and overall mortality from all causes. For every 2 hours of sitting, the risk for developing diabetes increases by 7%, along with heart disease and depression. Sitting still for long periods of time tells the muscle fibers to chill out, metabolic rate goes down, and fat burning enzymes such as lipoprotein lipase start switching off. Sitting all day can reduce fat burning by 50%. So, even if you are exercising 5 days each week, if you are sitting still the rest of the time, these risk factors still creep up. Ouch.
Our lives in this ever-evolving efficiency of the electronic age are to blame. We sit and work at computer keyboards all day long. We shop online, push a button to open the garage, use the drive thru windows for food and banking, email co-workers two cubicles away, change the TV channels with the remote while reclined, call for take out instead of cooking, and our kids play endless hours of video games. Our muscles are asked to do less and less every year in our daily activities. We are too efficient for our health.
It's time to get those muscle fibers in motion. Dr. Toni Yancy from UCLA, recommends that those of us in sedentary jobs get up every hour and move for 10 minutes. Sit on an exercise ball or a ball chair instead of a desk chair (which I am doing right now!) An Australian study found that even 1 minute breaks can improve our triglyceride levels, blood sugar, cholesterol and waist size. Standing and walking workstations are now available, and may be a great option for you, too.
The message is clear: keep up with your regular exercise routine, but start sitting less throughout the day. Fidget, bounce, rock, walk. Every motion you make is a positive one for your health.
What ideas do you have for moving more throughout the day?
Fire UP! You can do it!!