Sitting is the New Smoking

I was just reading an article in the Globe and Mail about the increased risk factors for those who sit too long and have too much “screen time” every day.  And I’ve got to say, there are a lot of people out there who this affects.

There are two major studies that recently came out linking long bouts of uninterrupted sedentary behavior with increased health risks.  Well, that sounds pretty obvious, but the kicker is, they are finding that working out to counteract this sedentary time does not undo the damage. 

Scientists have found that levels of lipoprotein lipase drop in muscles that don’t contract for long periods of time.  This is the enzyme that pulls fat out of the bloodstream into muscles where is can be used as fuel.  So if you don’t need the fuel for your muscles, the theory is it just floats around and finds other places to create in your cardiovascular system. 

What this means to you is that moving around and taking breaks doesn’t just give you mind a break from the monotony, but it helps your muscles stay active and not drop into that sedentary phase where you drop your muscle metabolism. 

I’ve always suggested to people who hurt their lower backs or are prone to getting tight shoulders and headaches to take breaks, walk around the office, stretch, drink some extra water etc.  But mostly it was because I wanted them to avoid seizing up and exacerbating their existing problems.  Now I’ll be telling them to keep moving during sedentary times, not just for that reason, but because they can lower their risk for major cardiac events and other metabolic diseases by simply moving.

Some ideas to take with you...go talk to your coworker instead of email, take the stairs, get one of those little stationary pedaling machines for under your desk, do a couple squats, stand up when the phone rings, get a ball to sit on and bounce around, pretend to river dance under you desk....I don’t really care what it is, just move your muscles a bit next time you watch tv, sit in front of your computer or take a flight. 

Till next time,

Dr. Jen

© Jennifer Forbes 2015