I sit all day at work. And since my office is small, there is nowhere to go. That’s why a report in Men’s Health mag made me cringe. The magazine cited a study from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana – analyzing the lifestyles of more than 17,000 men and women over about 13 years – that determined people who sit for most of the day are 54 percent more likely to die of heart attacks.
And the horrid part: It doesn’t matter if you smoke or exercise. If you sit, even if you exercise, eat well and don’t smoke, sitting men and women alike still have a 54 percent greater risk of having heart issues than folks who don’t live healthy lifestyles and move around all day.
The other problem is that researchers don’t know why, although they suspect it has to do with an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase (LPL), which breaks down fat in the bloodstream and turns it into energy. In addition to affecting your health, sitting all day also:
1. Screws up your posture. The fascia, the tissue that connects individual muscles into a full-body network, begins to set when you stay in one position for too long.
2. Makes you fatter. You burn 60 more calories an hour standing versus sitting. And, if you sit too much, your largest muscle group — the glutes (butt) — become lazy and quit firing and you burn fewer calories.
3. Causes lower back pain. Weak glutes push your pelvis forward, putting stress on the spine and your belly protrudes, making you look 5 months pregnant.
But Men’s Health has some suggestions:
1. Think of exercise as a lifestyle not an activity. Stop trying to be fit, and start trying to live fit.
2. Stand more throughout the day.
3. Take two breaks an hour. Grab a drink or walk to a co-workers desk. Or, simply stand and stretch for a minute. A European Heart Journal study of 5,000 men and women found that the quarter who took the most breaks during the day were 1.6 inches thinner than the quarter who took the least.
4. Stand during phone calls.
5. Don’t write long emails. Instead, talk to the person – and stand up when you call them.
6. Ask for a standup desk. Australian researchers found that workers who log more than 6 hours of seat time a day are up to 68 percent more likely to be overweight. Make sure the screen is at arm’s length, and the top at eye level. Position the keyboard so your elbows are bent 90 degrees.
And one from me: Take a 30-minute walk. I know I should do this, but I never do. Today, I am going to use those sneakers I keep in my office “just in case.”