You may have heard that “sitting is the new smoking.”“Whereas smoking was public enemy number one,” says Buchinsky, University Hospitals Case Medical Center’s Director of Wellness. “The ‘sitting sickness’ is now becoming epidemic.”
We know that “standing during the day not only burns double the number of calories as sitting, but also has some long-lasting healthy benefits for the body.”
But, it’s not just because we don’t burn enough calories or use our muscles enough when we sit all day. According to Marc Hamilton, it’s more complex than that:
“The enzymes in blood vessels of muscles responsible for ‘fat burning’ are shut off within hours of not standing…. Standing and moving lightly will re-engage the enzymes, but since people are awake 16 hours a day, it stands to reason that when people sit much of that time, they are losing the opportunity for optimal metabolism throughout the day.”
An NIH analysis of past studies confirms that sitting too much increases the risk of “hospitalizations, all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer in adults independent of physical activity.”
Researchers are beginning to believe that even going to the gym after sitting all day won’t counteract the damage.
A recent meta-analysis examined 14 studies measuring the effects of sitting on cardiovascular disease and diabetes, 14 cancer studies, and 13 studies that looked at all causes of death.
The analysis confirmed that for each of these serious outcomes, sitting all day increased the risk regardless of outside exercise. This means that even if people exercised after sitting all day, they would still suffer ill effects associated with prolonged inactivity.
Don’t imagine that it’s hopeless to exercise. Going to the gym and getting active exercise is still very beneficial in many ways, but sitting all day is a more serious risk than was previously known.