I used to work for my dad in his office, the very first “real” job I ever had, and his favorite joke was saying that I was getting the “secretary spread,” a delightfully insensitive term he used to poke fun at the stereotype of overweight office women with flat butts munching out of candy bowls all day. Little did I know, while his delivery was anything but tactful, his message was pretty dead on.
If you sit for more than 6 hours a day, (think about work, driving, watching TV, surfing the internet- are you sitting right now?) here are some disturbing facts: your risk of heart disease is increased by up to 64 percent. You’re also more at risk for certain types of cancer. If kept up long enough, you’re shaving years of quality time off your life. Sitting is literally killing you. Want one more scary fact? Most people sit for 15 hours a day.
Why is sitting so bad for you? Let us explore.
While the effects of sitting also depend on diet and other health factors, let’s assume you are a relatively healthy person of a healthy weight. You finally land your dream job, which unfortunately, has you parked at a desk for the full work day, minus an hour for lunch, and few bathroom and coffee breaks, for a total of 6 hours. Uh oh. There’s that number. And keep in mind, most people sit while eating lunch and, well, during bathroom breaks.
Immediately after sitting down, the electrical activity in your muscles slows and your calorie-burning rate drops to one calorie per minute- about a third of what it does while walking, setting you up for weight gain.
Within five days of working your fancy new desk job, your body increases plasma triglycerides, which are fatty molecules, your LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff), and your insulin resistance. This means your muscles aren’t taking in fat and your blood sugar levels skyrocket, putting you at further risk of weight gain and cholesterol issues.