The Science of Sitting

X-bytes_WellnessBlog_Banner3-2Last month I attended the first-ever sedentary behavior and health conference at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. However, unlike the seated conference attendees, I chose to attend via webstream so that I could stand up and

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Move of the Month

LUNGES

1. Stand with legs hip width apart
2. Take big step forward with left leg in front
3. Lower body so that both knees are bent at 90°
4. Keep back straight
5. Repeat for 30 second or do 10 repetitions on each leg

Deskercizes_Lunges_Edited-3

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Last month I attended the first-ever sedentary behavior and health conference at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. However, unlike the seated conference attendees, I chose to attend via webstream so that I could stand up and learn from my motorized sit-to-stand desk.

Could you imagine a 2-day conference all about sitting? I’m excited to share my take away learnings and de-mystify the “science of sitting” so here goes:

1. Sedentary behavior (too much sitting) has been mistakenly used as a synonym for physical inactivity (or too little exercise, absence of exercise or not exercising). Sedentary behavior is defined as long periods of muscular inactivity from time spent sitting or lying down while awake. Activities include watching TV, driving to and from work, siting on the bus or public transportation, sitting while eating, and working at a desk. Think of sitting along a spectrum from sedentary activity (rest) to light activity (e.g., strolling), moderate physical activity (e.g., brisk walking) and vigorous activity (e.g., running).

2. Sleeping is not considered sedentary behavior because sleep is restorative and a vital activity for maintaining health. Sleep plays an important role in learning, memory, improves mood, and decreases the risk of health problems and accidents caused by drowsiness.

3. Myth: People who exercise need not worry about how much time they sit at work. While exercise is good for your health, it doesn’t negate the risks associated with being sedentary. Too much sitting is a health hazard regardless of how fit you are. It doesn’t matter how much you exercise outside of work hours. Sitting for extended periods of time puts you at risk for health problems (cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal symptoms, weight gain, obesity, metabolic changes, metabolic syndrome, chronic kidney disease, deep vein thrombosis) and premature death.

4. Reducing sitting time is a separate issue from increasing physical activity. The American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for exercise are as follows: 150+ minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week or 75+ minutes of vigorous intensity activity per week plus 2-3 days per week of muscle-strengthening exercises. Exercise can be conducted in 10-minute bouts and activity should be spread out over the week to minimize the potential for musculoskeletal injury.

5. How much sitting is too much? Currently there are no national guidelines for sedentary behavior or recommendations for maximum hours of sitting per day. The prescription is simple: Interrupt and minimize the amount of time in prolonged sitting. Break up long periods of sitting as often as possible.

Just get up, stand up, move more and move often!

Dr. Kim

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