Us Europeans are seated too much at a daily basis. We sit at the desk at work, sit in the car to work and at home we also sit behind the TV. Compared to other Europeans, the Dutch are 'champions in prolonged sitting'. It begs the question if we should be pleased with that title. More and more evidence is given, that prolonged sitting on a daily basis is a serious threat to your health long term, so start exercising more!
“If you do not use those muscles, the fat and sugar from your blood is absorbed less quickly, which means you have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and developing diabetes. ”- Researcher Hidde van der Ploeg
Sitting for a long time and a lot is labeled as the “new smoking”. That is a strong statement, but there is some truth in it. As mentioned above, excessive sitting behavior can lead to chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and in the short term to complaints of muscles, tendons and joints. Australian research of 200,000 adults aged 45 and over shows that excessive sitting is responsible for nearly 7% of premature deaths.
The body is constantly working hard to convert nutrients into energy and to break down sugars and fats. Sitting often and for a long time ensures that these sugars and fats are processed less well. If we exercise more, our body can convert sugars and fats better. In addition, the sugars and fats are absorbed faster if we exercise more and that reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and the development of diabetes.
Changes in the body
Research is currently being conducted into the increased risks of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease from prolonged sitting. Insulin plays an important role in the metabolism, it ensures the transport of glucose to the blood cells. Glucose is therefore an important fuel for the body. In a healthy person, the body ensures that the glucose can reach the blood cells and that the blood cells also absorb the insulin. In people with a disturbed insulin action, the blood cells do not absorb glucose properly. Prolonged sitting can cause changes in, among other things, insulin levels, insulin sensitivity and plasma fats in the blood. This could explain the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Exactly how the process works is currently being investigated.
Move more and sit less
The negative effects of sitting also apply to people who often exercise in addition to their sitting activities, we have to move more even while sitting. The Dutch government advises people to exercise moderately intensively for 30 minutes a day for good health. More exercise during or between our sitting activities can be easily done. We can move more by standing for half an hour, for example do that meeting standing instead of sitting. In addition, we can exercise more by getting yourself a drink at the office or more exercise by walking to that colleague to ask a short question instead of e-mailing. It is important that you do not sit for more than two consecutive hours. Other ways of “exercising more” are:
Sitting around all day can be deadly. This is a warning that applies to people who sit over eleven hours a day. People who sit for more than 11 hours are 15% more likely to die prematurely than people who sit four hours a day and exercise more. The animation clearly explains why sitting for long periods is not good and why we should move more!