When you’re sitting down, you’re not exercising; so sitting is bad for you. But sitting is bad for more reasons and it is bad even for those who are otherwise active and fit, says recent research.
It isn’t just that the lack of exercise is bad for you; it is sitting itself that is bad for you, says Brisbane epidemiologist Genevieve Healy who analyzed data obtained from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2003 and 2006.
People who sit for longer periods of time – whether it is at a desk working or whether it is on a couch watching TV – are likelier to be unhealthy. Those who sit for longer periods have poorer cardio and metabolic functioning and more inflammation.
Not only are they more likely to have bigger waist circumferences, they are also more likely to have higher levels of LDL (the bad cholesterol) and lower levels of HDL (the good cholesterol). High levels of triglycerides and C reactive proteins are also seen among those who sit a lot.
Earlier research has also suggested that sitting is bad for health in a number of ways. Not only are you at higher risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes, you are also putting yourself at higher risk of certain cancers.
It was seen that among two groups of people who watched TV for 3 hours a day; one group who exercised and one group who did not, both groups were as fat. So even if you do exercise, sitting for long periods seems to cancel out the benefits of the exercise.
Every little of bit energy that you expend, simply by virtue of not sitting; simply by standing and not even doing exercise, all of that energy expended adds up over time, to determine whether you’re going to beleaner or heavier. Whether you take the stairs or the elevator, take short walks even to talk to a colleague in the same office rather than pick up the phone… all of this adds up!
Studies also showed that the molecule lipoprotein lipase, which is responsible for processing fats, is not produced while sitting, but only while standing up or moving about. This is why sitting actually slows down the metabolism and probably changes the way that the body metabolizes sugars and fats.
Another reason why sitting is harmful is that it changes the fat distribution of the body making it more likely that you will gain fat around the middle which is worse than gaining weight elsewhere.