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Sitting is Lethal. · April 19, 2011

There seems to be a growing body of research called “inactivity studies” that suggests that sitting is lethal. Why do some people eat the same amount of food as others and gain weight, while others don’t. The key is activity. The people who don’t gain weight are subconsciously more active.

“We measured everything, thinking we were going to find some magic metabolic factor that would explain why some people didn’t gain weight,” explains Dr. Michael Jensen, a Mayo Clinic researcher…” But the answer was much simpler. “The people who didn’t gain weight were unconsciously moving around more,” Dr. Jensen says.

“They hadn’t started exercising more — that was prohibited by the study. Their bodies simply responded naturally by making more little movements than they had before the overfeeding began, like taking the stairs, trotting down the hall to the office water cooler, bustling about with chores at home or simply fidgeting. On average, the subjects who gained weight sat two hours more per day than those who hadn’t.”

When you are sitting without moving around, “the muscles go as silent as those of a dead horse,” says another researcher, which leads 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… plunge, which in turn causes the levels of good (HDL) cholesterol to fall.

And the onset of problems can be quite rapid. In less than 24 hours, deep metabolic effects of inactivity are in full swing. In a study of over 123,000 Americans, researchers learned that “over a lifetime, the unhealthful effects of sitting add up.” Inactive men have an overall death rate 20 percent higher than active men, while in inactive women the increased death rate is 40% higher.

In another study that looked at 9,000 Australians television habits, those who watched an additional hour of television increased their risk of dying prematurely by 11 percent. The study excluded other factors.

“Sitting, it would seem, is an independent pathology. Being sedentary for nine hours a day at the office is bad for your health whether you go home and watch television afterward or hit the gym. It is bad whether you are morbidly obese or marathon-runner thin. ‘Excessive sitting, is a lethal activity,’” says Dr. Levine, the lead researcher at the Mayo Clinic study.

“Those who combine useful labor with study have no need of gymnastic exercises. And work performed in the open air is tenfold more beneficial to health than in-door labor. Both the mechanic and the farmer have physical exercise, yet the farmer is the healthier of the two. Nothing short of nature’s invigorating air and sunshine will fully meet the demands of the system. The tiller of the soil finds in his labor all the movements that were ever practiced in the gymnasium. His movement-room is the open fields. The canopy of heaven is its roof, the solid earth its floor. Here he plows and hoes, sows and reaps. Watch him, as in “haying time” he mows and rakes, pitches and tumbles, lifts and loads, throws off, treads down, and stows away. These various movements call into action the bones, joints, muscles, sinews, and nerves of the body. His vigorous exercise causes full, deep, strong inspirations and exhalations, which expand the lungs and purify the blood, sending the warm current of life bounding through arteries and veins. A farmer who is temperate in all his habits, usually enjoys health. His work is pleasant to him. He has a good appetite. He sleeps well, and may be happy.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, pg. 73-74.

“There is no exercise that can take the place of walking. By it the circulation of the blood is greatly improved.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 78

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