Are You Sitting Too Much? Could Sitting Making You ‘Resistant’ to the Benefits of Exercise?

Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Have a think, in a typical day how long do you spend sitting down? Total up how long you spend sitting at work, sat in your car, sitting at home etc.  How many hours did you get? Are you still sitting comfortably or are now wanting to stand up and walk about the room? Yes or No, either way, discover what small changes you could make; which doesn’t mean getting out for a run or going to the gym…

On average adults spend 9.5 hours parked on their behinds each day. 

Unsurprisingly, screen time at work and at home is largely to blame. In the UK we spend on average 3 hours 23 minutes in front of the TV, on our phones or on a device each day. Most of which is spent sitting. 

This increasing trend is a concern especially with research highlighting that the more time spent sitting each day, the higher your risk of dying early from any cause. 

Research has found that multiple days of being extremely sedentary increases your resistance to the benefits of exercise. A study found that consistent exercise can indeed counteract the ill effects of sitting more than 6 hours a day. 

Your body is designed to move. Sitting for an extended period of time causes your body to shut down at the metabolic level. Your circulation slows, you use less of your blood sugar and you burn less fat, which increases your risk of heart disease and diabetes. So, when you do exercise is has very little physical benefit.

There is still hope. The key is to exercise more often. 

And, by exercise, it doesn’t necessarily mean spending more time in the gym or more time out running. Simple things like hoovering the house, going for a walk, just getting the body moving and off that chair all count as exercise. 

The key to reaping the benefits from ‘exercise’ (running/gym etc) is moving more throughout the day.  To avoid becoming exercise resistant aim to take at least 8,000 steps per day—every day. For runners and people who exercise who tally up that step count in one bout, you should still keep moving throughout the day to boost your metabolism. Although running and exercise does much good for you, if you spend the rest of your waking hours sitting, those health benefits depreciate. 

So, try to move every 30 minutes even if you do manage to ‘exercise.’ Prolonged sitting can have the most negative health impact. Try building in little exercise breaks to your routine. Try closing your computer/tablet/phone for at least an hour in the evenings and get moving. At work, get up from your desk and go for a brisk walk around the office. Have a think now, how can you build exercise into your routine without it really being ‘exercise.’

Alex Cann