Are you sitting more than usual? Does your job require you to sit at a desk for long periods? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then you should listen up. Research has found that sitting for long periods can harm your health. There is, however, one thing that you can do daily that may help offset the damage caused by sitting.
Dangers of sitting for long periods of time
Self-quarantine and stay-at-home orders have forced millions of Americans indoors and into a work-at-home situation or even towards more couch time than usual. If you are one of these and have found yourself sitting for long periods, this is information that you don’t want to miss.
Sitting for too long is bad for your health; there is no argument there. In fact, here are some of the ways that your health can be diminished if you find yourself sitting for a long time.
- Sitting reduces the number of calories that you burn – Non-exercise energy expenditure (NEAT) is what we get when we are going about our daily routine activities. The lack of NEAT is connected to a higher risk of weight gain. Activities such as sitting or lying down use very little energy and therefore reduce NEAT. One study found that agricultural workers burned 1,000 more calories than office workers who were sitting at a desk all day.
- Sitting can lead to weight gain – The fewer calories you burn, the more weight you will gain. Research indicates that obese people sit, on average, two hours more than those who are of healthy weight.
- Sedentary behavior is linked to disease – Sedentary behavior is linked to more than 30 chronic conditions. It increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 112% and the risk of having a heart attack by 147%.
- Sitting is linked to an early death – Observational studies of over 1 million people show that those who sit for longer periods daily are more likely to die early. Scientists have found that the most sedentary people had a 22-49% greater chance of early death than those who were more active.
The one thing that “sitters” should be doing
Now that we know the risks associated with sitting for too long, let’s look at the one thing that you can do daily that will help to offset these risks. That one thing is a mini 4-second workout. That’s right; researchers found that 4-second workouts conducted five times an hour can help improve fat metabolism and lower blood triglyceride levels.
According to Edward F.Coyle, Ph.D., a professor in the kinesiology and health education department at UT Austin, 4-second sprints conducted five times per hour may just be the answer “sitters” are looking for to stay healthy.
Coyle says that to activate fat metabolism, you have to engage your muscles. Sitting too long keeps muscles inactive for a long time and shuts down fat metabolism.
For his research, Coyle used a specialized stationary bike to measure output. After the study, Coyle stated that a stationary bike might be the best way to really reap the benefits of exercise sprinting.
When working out is important for success
Keep in mind, it has been found that regular exercise does not entirely offset the issues caused by sitting too long. One study found that one hour of intense exercise did not make up for the negative implications of sitting.
What this means is that sitting for eight hours and hitting the gym hard after work may not be doing as much good as you think. Yes, going to the gym is a great thing and does have benefits, but if you really want to keep your fat-burning machine going all day long, doing five 4-second sprints each hour while at your desk is an excellent routine to adopt.
This new research shows how healthy bouts of exercise during the day can be for those who are tied to a desk and chair. Other countries like Japan have an hour exercise break built into workdays, and some companies like Facebook and Google have game areas where employees can get some exercise during the day.
It seems that getting up out of your chair for 4 seconds, five times each hour, and riding hard on a stationary bike is enough to keep fat burners turned on and engage your muscles! So, if you have a desk job, see what you can do about getting a stationary bike to sit by your desk…your body will thank you!