Shards of Consciousness

The Sedentary Life and Poor Health

Maybe our desks should have forty inch legs.

ABC News has published a report that research originally published in the medical journal Diabetes shows that one possible factor in the epidemic of increasing fat is sitting.

No, not lack of exercise. Just the sheer fact that we sit so much.

Recent research done by a team at the University of Missouri used rats, pigs, and humans. In one part of the research, fat tagged with radioactive dye was injected into the subjects. When they were sitting the fat went straight to adipose tissue rather than circulating through the bloodstream to be metabolized. Adipose tissue is a type of connective tissue around organs that holds fat. Fat buildup around organs is not a healthy thing.

In a second aspect of the research, the team looked at the activity of lipase, an enzyme that splits fat during the metabolic process. After several hours of sitting, lipase levels were down an average of 10%, leading to a slowdown in metabolism and a decrease in high density cholesterol levels. Lipase is primarily produced in the liver and pancreas, so I would take this as an indication that a lot of sitting decreases the activity level of these two important organs.

In the past century there has been an explosive increase in fat levels and diabetes. This increase has accompanied a shift to highly refined foods and a sedentary lifestyle.

It seems that exercising an hour a day isn't enough to counteract the effects of the amount of time we spend sitting. So what can we do? Stand. Putter. Don't spend hours sitting at the computer, television, or video game.

That forty inch desk may start to look good.

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4 Responses to The Sedentary Life and Poor Health

  • Rick:

    Now that is definitely looking interesting! I confess that I am one of those who sit a lot for I'm at my computer a lot these days. But I am mindful of the need to move around, exercise and get out of the house.

    You brought up a thought provoking thought - we get fat because we sit too much. Hmm!

  • That's why I posted about it, Steve. The idea that just the sheer act of sitting apart from the relationship to exercise can have such physiological effects never occurred to me.

  • Where does that lead us bloggers? Especially bloggers who blog for a living. In any case, this article has certainly opened my eyes. I do tend to sit around a lot and I could do with a bit more of walking, standing, whatever. It's bad enough that I don't get to exercise at all.

  • Hi jen_chan, and welcome to Shards.

    That 40 inch desk I mentioned is one option. :)

    Beyond that, it's fairly simple. Get up. Move around. Give new meaning to the phrase thinking on your feet. As with so many other things, the hardest part is making the decision to do it.

    Craig Harper has an excellent article for those of us who spend a lot of time at the keyboard, The Computer Junkie's Guide to Fitness.

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