A new study led by the University of Leicester, in association with colleagues at Loughborough University, has discovered that sitting for long periods increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease and death regardless of physical activity.
The study, which combined the results of 18 studies and included a total of 794,577 participants, was led by Dr. Emma Wilmot, a research fellow in the Diabetes Research Group at the University of Leicester. It was done in collaboration with colleagues from the newly established National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit and was published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association of the Study of Diabetes.
Put simply, the danger in prolonged sitting is that it “stalls the metabolic machinery,” as Dr. James Levine professor of medicine stated. “The body has an exquisitely designed system for trafficking fuels such as carbohydrates and fats. Serious consequences result when the muscular engine sits on ‘idle.’ “
Put simply, the danger in prolonged sitting is that it “stalls the metabolic machinery,” as Dr. Levine put it. “The body has an exquisitely designed system for trafficking fuels such as carbohydrates and fats. Serious consequences result when the muscular engine sits on ‘idle.’ “
According to Dr. Levine, this “physiology of inactivity” results in a variety of immediate, undesirable effects. For instance, inactivity impedes the ability to metabolize fat and sugar and it also elevates triglycerides, potentially raising the risk for cardiovascular disease. Prolonged sitting weakens muscles, which can lead to back pain, arthritis and joint problems. Previous research has demonstrated that sitting for long periods suppresses lipase, an enzyme involved in fat metabolism that is produced only when leg muscles flex — low levels are associated with heart disease and other illnesses. Sex hormones, including estrogen and testosterone metabolism, also are affected, Dr. Levine noted, adding that “these impact all aspects of physical and emotional states.”
According to the study, those who sit for long periods have a two fold increase in their risk of diabetes, heart disease and death. Importantly, associations were independent of the amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity undertaken, suggesting that even if an individual meets typical physical activity guidelines, their health may still be compromised if they sit for long periods of time throughout the day.