Fitness Tips

Beware..Sitting can Kill!

I was amazed to hear an interview on the radio the other day about that nasty, deadly, craze of sitting! Yes, sitting can kill. Experts are not sure yet, how much sitting or exactly why but apparently it can be dangerous and linked to many diseases. Research is going on all the time, and what they are finding out about the amount of sitting we are doing is amazing and a little worrying.

The scary thing is though that even a runner like me (nearly an ultra runner!) can still suffer from the bad effects of sitting. Yes I run, I exercise in spurts, but I still can sit for hours on the computer, or in the car driving to all my sessions and often all the running doesn’t save you from all the sitting.

It is a modern day dilemma. The push to have the thirty minutes of exercise has really taken off, governments and health professionals are really happy with the progress made in getting people out side and exercising for 30 mins a day or trying to fit in their 10,000 steps, however, guess what? We are still getting fatter, in fact the 30 minute people a day who started on this type of exercise program to get healthier and lose weight, have reported that they have put on weight!

There are a couple of theories on why; the mind is saying we have done our exercise now lets pig out, and I must admit I have given in to that mentality over years, we love to reward ourselves and most of us see food and alcohol as great rewards.

The other theory is that maybe it’s not so much the exercise (running, walking, swimming or gyming), we need but is it just general moving about. It’s called incidental exercise and that has decreased across all ages in the Western world.

Our precious little babies get driven to school instead of riding their bikes; I’ve seen parents driving their darlings to the bus stop down the road, to catch a bus.

We don’t walk to the corner shop to buy the paper, it gets delivered or we get it at the supermarket when we drive up there for the bread and milk as well.

Many jobs that were once had active components, are now very much office based as technology has taken the need out for us to get up and go into the bosses office to speak to him or her; walk to the post office to collect the mail; or go downstairs to see someone, just facebook them or email.

We don’t even have to get off the couch to change the TV channels…all of the above was incidental exercise and it has gone from our lives.

And what are we doing now that all the incidental exercise is gone; well we are sitting or course…at the computer, in the car, watching telly etc. Kids are not playing out doors as much as they used to so, yes they are sitting as well.

A study done recently in America of fatties and non fatties, asked all participants to stop exercising and gave them the same amount of food to eat, the fatties got fatter and the non fatties stayed the same…the study was trying to find out why some people are fatter than others if they are on the same calorie intake and not exercising, and the reason is the fatties sat more.

The non fatties were not exercising but they got up and down more, they walked up stairs and just were generally on their feet more, and the most amazing thing was the non fatties just fidgeted more! Yes just fidgeting, made them more active and healthy.

Why is sitting so harmful you ask? Muscles need to be extended and contracted to work, that is how they use their energy and burn calories. And no it doesn’t have to be from exercising; it happens every time we move or even don’t move. Believe it or not, when you stand, many of your muscles are working as they are supporting your weight and holding your posture correctly, that takes work. The leg, back and shoulder muscles are often in contraction when standing, and when they are working they are using energy, and you don’t even know it.

Sitting however, the muscles are doing a lot less. When you sit you burn about 1 calorie a minute as opposed to standing burns 3 calories a minute and then walk and its 5 calories a minute.

Another problem is the eating and then sitting. Eating provides us with energy and puts blood sugars into our systems, however, if we eat and stay still the blood sugar doesn’t circulate to the muscle, which is the part of our body that utilises the energy. The sugars just stay floating around in the bloodstream with nowhere to go, that causes too much blood sugar in our systems, which is one of the major causes of diabetes.

Many diabetics are now told to get up and walk for 10-20 mins after a meal to get the blood sugar they have consumed to the muscle, but it is probably a good thing for all people do, yes eat, then get up and move around.

More bad news for sitters! The human body was not designed to sit. Hundreds of years ago our ancestors toiled in the fields all day, and when they sat they squatted when working(once again the muscles are recruited when squatting, try doing it for a couple of minutes and you will soon find that out), then they came home , laid down and then got going again the next day. No obesity and I don’t think the need for chiropractors was high either.

Ok, I know you are thinking it isn’t enough that she is forcing us to run 3 or 4 times a week, now she is telling us we cant sit and relax! Well don’t shoot the messenger but these facts are in:

Men who sit 6 hours a day are 20% more likely to die than men who sit for 3 hours a day…and Women who sit for 6 hours a day are 40% more likely to die…

Yes, I bet that made you get off your butt!


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