Although for the majority of us it is a regular occurrence of our everyday life, sitting for long periods of time has been suggested to increase risks of diabetes, heart disease and death. Scientists from both Loughborough and Leicester Universities reveal that it can cause harm even if people are regularly exercising.
Diabetes UK has stated that anyone who spends a lot of time sitting down or lying down would obviously benefit from getting around and moving a bit more than they do. Unfortunately a large part of everyday life for most people involves sitting at a desk in work, sitting in cars, watching TV on the couch and sitting using computers.
Many try to counteract these large stints of sitting about through exercise, getting about or heading to the gym a couple of times a week. Dr Emma Wilmot of the Diabetes Group at the University of Leicester and her team stated that although there are obvious benefits of getting some exercise instead of heading straight back to the couch, spending a long time sitting down will still be bad for you.
The research involved looking at a variety of studies that have been assessed using different measures, for instance self reported sitting times, the number of hours a week spent watching TV etc. It is believed that due to the different measurements and time lengths, it is difficult to put an absolute figure on just how much time sitting is bad for you. What was clear from the studies was that the longer a person sat, the more likely they were to have a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease and death compared to those who spent less time sitting down.
Dr Wilmot stated that clearly if someone has spent all day working, then heads to the gym after to get some exercise, would have a better health outcomes compared to their work colleague who goes home to watch TV. However there is still a health risk in the amount of sitting down you do throughout the day, a job that involves standing or walking about throughout the day is going to have a lower health risk than a desk job.
The strongest associations from the analysis were found between sitting for long periods and diabetes. Being sedentary adversely affects glucose levels in the body and increases the resistance to insulin; however it is unclear why this happens. There are of course a number of workarounds that can be done to cut down on the amount of sitting time you do at work. You can opt to take short breaks to walk about a bit every so often, have meetings standing up, get out and walk around at your lunch break and choose to do things that get you up and about in the evenings.
Dr Matthew Hobbs, the head of research at Diabetes UK said that even with these results in mind, people should not be discouraged from getting regular exercise. What is clear from the research is that those that spend a lot of time sitting about could benefit greatly from swapping some of this time by doing something more active and get up and walking about. Getting active is also a great way of getting rid of any unwanted weight whilst at the same time cutting down on your risk of Type 2 diabetes.
- Too much sitting ‘bad for health’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Sitting at an Office Desk Increases Risk of Diabetes, Heart Disease and Premature Death 200% (prweb.com)
- Sitting For Long Periods Is Deadly Even If You Meet Physical Activity Guidelines (myscienceacademy.org)
- Sitting for Prolonged Periods Ups Risk for Diabetes, Heart Disease, Death by Over 90 Percent (medicaldaily.com)