Sitting Disease A 2008 Vanderbilt University Study of 6,300 people estimated that the average American spends 55% of waking time (7.7 hours/day) in sedentary behaviors such as sitting. A 2010 American Cancer Society study followed 123,216 people from 1993 – 2006 and found that: Women who sat for over 6 hours a day were 94% more likely to die during the time period studied then those were sat less than 6 hours per day. Men who sat for over 6 hours a day were 48% more likely to die. These findings were independent of physical activity levels (negative effects of inactivity were just as strong in people who exercised regularly - the exercising coach potato). Even when adults meet physical activity guidelines (150 minutes a week of moderate intensity), sitting for prolonged periods can compromise metabolic health. Spending a few hours a week at the gym or otherwise engaging in moderate or vigorous activity does not seem to significantly offset the risk. Exercise is not a perfect antidote for sitting. Sitting for long periods of time and an overly sedentary chair based lifestyle increases risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome (increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excessive fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol), death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. The increased risk is separate from other traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as smoking or high blood pressure. In a novel study by Dr.Levine, designed to answer the question why some people who consume the same amount of food as others gain more weight, he had subjects wear motion tracking underwear and consume 1000 extra calories per day; Dr. Levine found that the people who gained weight mover less. The subjects who did not gain weight unconsciously moved around more; they hadn’t started exercising, it wasn’t allowed. Their bodies naturally responded by making more frequent little movements than they had before, like taking the stairs, trotting down the hall to the water cooler, bustling with chores at home, or simply fidgeting. When we sit in chairs, electrical activity in the muscle drops. Calorie burning rate immediately nose dives. Insulin effectiveness drops within ONE day. The enzymes responsible for breaking down cholesterol plunge. Dr. Levine has a concept called NEAT: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis where even the littlest stuff matters. Obese subjects average only 1500 daily movement and 600 minutes sitting per day. Farmers in Jamaica average 5000 daily movements and only 300 minutes sitting per day.
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