Are you sitting down to read this??

I’ve previously talked about the value of physical activity beyond weight loss but new research has shown that prolonged ‘sitting’ itself is a risk factor for metabolic syndrome, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, obesity and early death.This recent University of Sydney study, looking at more than 222,000 adults aged 45 and over, found that men and women who sat for 11 hours or more a day had a 40 per cent greater risk of premature death, than those who sat for less than four hours.

Why is sitting itself so bad?

When we sit down our leg muscles are inactive and muscle contraction is a major contributor to many of the body’s regulatory processes, such as breaking down sugars and the production and activities of key enzymes involved in removing fats from the blood. Further to this, going to the gym for a hard work out after a long day of sitting did not ‘undo’ the health effects of prolonged sitting.

So what can we do about it? Your key focus should be to ‘break up’ your bouts of sitting by standing or even contracting your leg muscles for 2 minutes per 20 minutes of sitting. Look for opportunities to stand up, walk or use the stairs. This may be standing up every time you take a phone call, walking with a takeaway coffee to catch up with a friend or eating your lunch standing up.

-Kristin Lewis

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