Repost from NY Times: Is Sitting a Lethal Activity?

A new field in health research is called “inactivity studies,” and this article reports on its findings.

Here’s one. Two people eat and exercise the same. One gains weight, the other doesn’t. Why?

If you fidget more and move more, but not necessarily work out, you can burn a lot of calories. People who are more sedentary put on more weight.

That seems like a no-brainer, but so much knowledge about this is based on self-reporting, which is simply unreliable. The study used “magic underwear” to track motion.

This is your body on chairs: Electrical activity in the muscles drops — “the muscles go as silent as those of a dead horse,” Hamilton says — leading to a cascade of harmful metabolic effects. Your calorie-burning rate immediately plunges to about one per minute, a third of what it would be if you got up and walked. Insulin effectiveness drops within a single day, and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes rises. So does the risk of being obese. The enzymes responsible for breaking down lipids and triglycerides — for “vacuuming up fat out of the bloodstream,” as Hamilton puts it — plunge, which in turn causes the levels of good (HDLcholesterol to fall.

I’m curious. How much sitting is too much? More than six hours a day, some say; others say more than nine hours a day. Sitting is more lethal than age, sex, education, smoking, hypertension, BMI and other indicators.

And did you know that Steelcase, maker of file cabinets and office furniture, now makes treadmill desks?

That’s the ticket for health at sedentary jobs. That, or fidget and get up and walk around a lot.

“Go into cubeland in a tightly controlled corporate environment and you immediately sense that there is a malaise about being tied behind a computer screen seated all day,” he said. “The soul of the nation is sapped, and now it’s time for the soul of the nation to rise.”

Is Sitting a Lethal Activity? –