Study Shows Sitting Negates Workout Benefits

Last week, Mayo Clinic Proceedings published a study which tested 2,223 healthy participants aged 12-49 years on how sedentary inactivity can reduce the benefits of exercise. An hour of sitting in a car or desk can reduce the health benefits of an hour run by 8%. So ten hours could negate the benefits by as much as 80%. This isn't the first study to suggest this, and nor is it a surprise. Our current stage of evolution is optimized more for hunting and gathering rather than driving to work and sitting at a desk all day.

There still remains plenty of questions that the study doesn't directly address, such as what exactly is the difference between sitting and resting. Most elite athletes' routines involve a lot of sitting back with their feet up, literally, as elevating their legs while resting helps avoid stiffness and soreness in between workouts. But when we're sitting and working or driving, it seems our bodies do not respond well to not moving while we engage in mental activity.

Quitting your job and becoming a yak shepherd is not an option for most of us. But getting up at least every 20 minutes to move around, get water and refreshments, walk and take stairs can help. Sitting on a yoga ball or a yoga ball chair helps because your core muscle are constantly active in order to balance your weight. An adjustable desk that allows you to stand for at least part of the day is also a great solution. If you take the train, try to stand during your commute if possible, or give yourself time to walk part way. And if you're stuck in a four hour meeting, some discrete fidgeting and bouncing your leg under the table can't hurt.

If you have your own creative ideas for ways to keep active, please share!

Tony has been a runner for over three decades, competing in cross country and track in high school and college, and road races for various clubs. He's served as team captain for several Corporate Challenge teams at YMCA of the USA, and has informally coached many friends over the years.

Tags: This Week in Runners, Y, YMCA, Running, sitting, sedentary, benefits of exercise

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