We are told about the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle all the time, and moving your body regularly through the day is really important.

Perhaps you’re sitting down most of the day, but addressing your sedentary job with a mega workout once in the day. Did you know this approach to sitting all day, with a one off  Zumba or HIIT class might not be the health antidote you thought it was?

Lack of physical activity

Getting regular exercise is one of the most important things we can do to prevent chronic health conditions. A recent study found that one hour of exercise didn’t give the expected improvements in our blood sugar response and fat levels in the blood in those who were sitting down all day.

If you’re sitting for more than 13 hours a day (e.g driving, at your desk, watching tv….) and then blast your 1 hour of running, weights or cardio it might be having less impact than you think.

The effects of a sedentary lifestyle

This study was small, only 10 people (5 men and 5 women) but it’s interesting because it shows sitting for long periods of time creates a condition whereby people become “resistant” to the metabolic improvements that are typically derived from an acute bout of aerobic exercise. One burst of aerobic exercise failed to improve lipid, glucose, and insulin metabolism measured the next day.

black hand weights and a resistance band against a wooden board background

It’s possible that sitting for prolonged periods deactivates our metabolism and makes our bodies resistant to the beneficial effects of exercise.

Reduce the amount of time you spend sitting down to get the biggest health impacts. Some studies suggested 20-40 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous exercise helps to protect against cardiovascular disease

How to move more

  • Get a standing desk at work
  • Do some stretches whilst watching tv, keep moving your body
  • Ask colleagues to walk and talk in a walking discussion
  • Walk or cycle whenever you can instead of driving
  • Get off the bus early and walk an extra stop into work and home again.
  • Take the stairs, rather than the lift or escalator (great for your legs!)
  • Monitor how many steps you do with a FitBit or most phones now have a health tracker that does this automatically.

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