Sitting – The New Smoking?

We all know that physical activity is important for general health. The typical guideline for physical activity (in a week):

150-300 minutes of MODERATE intensity (power walking, walking, house chores etc)

OR

75-150 minutes of VIGOROUS intensity (running, cycling, swimming, rowing etc)

OR

A combination of both

PLUS

at least 2 days of strength trainingIMG_5105


To the already-active individual, hitting the recommended hours in this guideline would be a piece of cake! I know many people who can complete it in 2 days (myself included)!

BUT! (there’s always a but)IMG_6701

If you are sitting (sedentary) for most of the time when you are NOT being active, you’re not much better off than the physically inactive person.

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If you workout for 60 minutes or more but spend the rest of the day seated (work/school/etc), then congratulations! You’re an Active-Couch Potato! Sounds cute but the effects are not that cute. In fact, it can be life threatening. Active-couch potato-ing has been associated with unwanted metabolic biomarkers (decrease in insulin sensitivity) [1].


What is “sitting”?

Sitting (or sedentary behaviour) includes behaviours that do not use much energy (less than 1.5 metabolic equivalents) during the hours that you are awake [2].

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Examples: Driving/commuting for long hours, seated at a desk for work/school, watching tv, meal times, chilling by the beach etc

funny-quotes-sitting-on-the-border-of-awesome-and-bombdiggity

Technology has both improved and worsen the situation. On one end of the spectrum, there are many available trackers/step counters/health apps/fitness apps etc that can encourage movement. And on the other end, it contributes to more SITTING! From online shopping to food delivery. Heh, we don’t even need to go grocery shopping or cook our food!


Sitting and Health

More sitting time has been associated with obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart problems.

Obesity

This is an easy one. If you eat more than you expend = weight gain.

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In essence, if inactivity is not offset with a decrease in food, you’re heading for obesity land.

Type 2 diabetes and Hearth Problems

Our body cells use energy in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which are made from blood glucose (carb) and triglycerides (fat). Sitting decreases the demand for ATP (because you’re not using much of it) and downregulates the mechanisms that are used for drawing glucose and triglycerides from the blood into the muscle cells. These include the GLUT-4 transporter protein (needed for blood glucose to enter the cell) and lipoprotein lipase (enzyme that breaks down triglycerides to free fatty acids to fuel muscle cells).IMG_1726

This is also “sitting”!

This will ultimately lead to MORE glucose AND triglycerides in the blood which are well established risk factors for developing heart diseases and Type 2 diabetes!


If you think you are active, THINK AGAIN!IMG_1647

How many hours do YOU spend sitting?

This is also your cue to GET UP and MOVE!

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