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Sitting Slows Metabolism - How to Not Sit Still?

10 Tips to Stop Sitting Still

By

Updated February 23, 2014

Sitting Watching TV

Sitting Watching TV

Newton Daly / Digital Visions
Polar Loop Inactivity Alert

Polar Loop Inactivity Alert

Screen Capture by Wendy Bumgardner

Sitting still might be killing you. In the short run, it may be slowing your metabolism so you burn less fat when you finally get up and exercise. That is the concern of Dr. Marc T. Hamilton in a paper published in the journal Diabetes.

How Sitting Hurts Us

Dr. Hamilton contends that our lifestyles have led to longer and longer bouts of sitting. We sit at work in front of the computer, then sit at home watching TV or surfing the internet or gaming. The average hours of sitting are increasing even as waistlines are expanding. He believes the research supports his theory that these are linked. The longer you sit, the slower your metabolism remains even when you later exercise. He points to a study that shows that fat-burning is slowed by prolonged sitting. Beyond that, he speculates that sitting turns off protective mechanisms that keep us from developing some chronic disease. "Sitting time and nonexercise activity have been linked in epidemiological studies to rates of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease," Hamilton concludes.

10 Tips to Stop Sitting Still

If you find yourself sitting for hours a day, try these ways to add more activity.
  • Wear a Pedometer: Pedometers are great motivators to add more steps to your day. First wear it a few days to see what your average step total is. Then aim to increase it by 2000 steps each day. Each week, try to increase the total of each day by another 1000-2000 steps. Once you reach the goal of 10,000 steps per day, you will have achieved the recommended amount of activity.
     
  • Track Your Sitting Time: Some activity monitors and apps help you monitor your sitting time and some alert you when you've been sitting too long.
     
  • Set a Get-Up Break Each 30 Minutes: Set a timer to get up and move every 30 minutes for 2 to 5 minutes. This can be as simple as getting a glass of water, doing a few stretches, or straightening up your desk.
     
  • Use an Exercise Ball as a Chair: For a portion of your sitting time, sit on an exercise ball. This will help activate your core and leg muscles even while sitting. It is best to use the ball for short periods of time at first and to alternate it with a good ergonomically-designed desk chair. The ball will also come in handy for doing a few exercises during your get-up breaks.
     
  • Pace While On the Phone: Stand up to take and make phone calls. The phone can be a good cue that it is time to stop sitting. Even a couple of minutes of pacing will help break up the sitting time.
     
  • Don't Make Things Too Convenient: Don't surround your desk with everything you will need in easy grabbing distance. Place items further away so you will need to get out of your chair to get them.
     
  • Get a Treadmill Desk or a DeskCycle: Walking slowly on a treadmill while working on the computer is becoming a real option as more and more people are using laptops and wireless internet. A pace of 1 mile per hour or less allows you to continue working while getting away from sitting. You may prefer a DeskCycle to pedal as you work, which will also reduce your inactive time.
     
  • Take Meetings Outside Your Office: Rather than having people come to you, get up and go to their office or invite them to meet while strolling.
     
  • Get Up and Talk Rather than Emailing or Messaging: Do you email people who are just a short walk away? Go see them face to face once in awhile.
     
  • Sitting on a Long Commute?: Find ways to add in walking before or after a long commute ride sitting in a car, train, or bus. Park further from your office. Get on or off a stop early and walk the final stretch to or from your destination.
     
  • Switch to a Wii: Gamers should consider getting hooked on active Wii gaming rather than sitting. Wii is being effectively used in nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities. It can help those of us don't have physical challenges but who are still too inactive to get into the action as well.

Source:

Hamilton, Marc T., et al. "Role of Low Energy Expenditure and Sitting in Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, Type 2 Diabetes, and Cardiovascular Disease." Diabetes. 2007 Nov;56(11):2655-67.

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