How sitting all day can cause health problems — even if you exercise

2022-10-13 12:09:54
How sitting all day can cause health problems — even if you exercise

Did you spend the rest of the day staring at your computer and then settle in front of the television at night?

If you answered yes to both questions, then you meet the definition of what scientists call “an active couch potato.” It means that, despite your commitment to exercise, you could be at risk for a variety of health problems, according to a sweeping new study of how people move — or don’t move — throughout the day.

The study, which involved more than 3,700 men and women in Finland, found that many dutifully exercised for a half-hour, but then sat, almost nonstop, for another 10, 11 or even 12 hours a day. These were the study’s active couch potatoes, and their blood sugar, cholesterol and body fat all were elevated.

But the study found, too, that men and women who got up and moved around even a little more often, whether by strolling gently or fitting in more exercise, were substantially healthier than the active couch potatoes.

The results tell us that a single 30-minute, daily workout “might not be enough” to alleviate the downsides of prolonged sitting, said Vahid Farrahi, a postdoctoral scientist at the University of Oulu and lead author of the new study.

In other words, if we exercise but also sit for the rest of the day, it’s almost as if we had not worked out at all.

The good news is that a few simple steps — literal and otherwise — should safeguard us from becoming an active sofa spud.

The World Health Organization and other experts advise us to work out moderately for a minimum of 30 minutes most days of the week. A brisk walk counts as moderate exercise.

Substantial scientific evidence shows this half-hour of exertion buoys our health, spirits and life span. The problem is how we spend the remaining 23½ hours a day.

“It’s only in the last five years or so that we’ve begun to understand that physical activity isn’t the whole story,” said Raija Korpelainen, a professor of health exercise at the University of Oulu in Finland and co-author of the new study.

The lesson from the research is that in addition to a brisk workout, we need to move lightly and often, cleaning, taking the stairs, strolling the halls or otherwise not remaining still. The sweet spot in this study involved about 80 or 90 extra minutes of light activity, “but any additional movement should be beneficial,” Farrahi said.

Source: The Washington Post


Error! Error occured!