Prolonged sitting increases risk of diabetes, heart disease: Study
Adults are sitting more than ever, and few pay attention to how they sit throughout the day. But sitting too much contributes to heart disease and diabetes, research has shown.
Researchers from the Netherlands studied 2,500 adults ages 40-75 and found that prolonged sitting patterns were associated with Type 2 diabetes and with metabolic syndrome.
Sitting patterns describe how people sit throughout the day. Some people commonly sit for long periods at a time, rarely getting up. They are said to have prolonged sitting patterns. Others rarely sit still. They regularly get up after sitting for just short periods. These sitters are said to have interrupted sitting patterns.
When you sit for long periods without getting up, the large weight-bearing muscles of the legs remain dormant. With no action, these muscles are unable to efficiently use the sugars and fats that float around in your blood - and in theory, this could lead to weight gain and metabolic diseases such as diabetes.
At the same time, reduced blood flow in your arteries leads to hostile conditions that promote injury to the blood vessel walls. Over a lifetime, this injury likely contributes to heart disease and to peripheral artery disease.
Furthermore, when your leg muscles remain shut off for long periods, blood collects in your veins which leads to an increased risk for blood clots, or deep venous thrombosis. Standing up and moving around can stop these processes, but all too often, we just keep sitting.
Studies show that adults with prolonged sitting patterns had larger waistlines, higher BMI, and in their blood had less good fats, more bad fats, and higher levels of sugar compared to adults with interrupted sitting patterns.