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How Sitting Can Harm Your Health

Believe it or not, humans were not designed to sit, we were designed to walk. People were walking and hunting and gathering almost all hours of the day for hundreds of thousands of years. Nowadays, since most of our jobs require sitting in front of a computer screen or in a cramped office cubicle, these once nature-intended activities seem like long lost arts. We know that walking and running are good for us, yet it seems like it's getting harder and harder to get up and move around. Sometimes walking seems like more of a dreaded exercise regimen than something to enjoy. After reading the next few paragraphs, you may be a little more motivated to sit less and walk more, and you'll have some great ideas on how to stay standing even if you work at a desk.

Sitting is worse than smoking. Anup Kanodia, a physician and researcher at the Center for Personalized Health Care at Ohio State University says that sitting for prolonged hours is the same as smoking. "What on earth?" you say. "How could that possibly be?" you wonder. "Sitting can't possibly be comparable to smoking!" Guess again. According to an Australian study published last year, for every hour people watch TV, assuming they're sitting, approximately 22 minutes are cut from their life span. In comparison, it's estimated that smokers lose about 11 minutes per cigarette. What are these so-called detrimental effects that make sitting worse than inhaling smelly, poisonous fumes?

Sitting doesn't burn calories. Sitting uses significantly less energy than anything else and thus slows down the production of lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme that functions by turning bad cholesterol into good cholesterol. Not using enough energy throughout the day can also contribute to unintended weight gain.

Sitting can incur insulin resistance. Insulin resistance, a condition in which cells fail to respond normally to insulin, can prevent your body from successfully metabolizing sugar. Researchers found that those who sit have a higher risk of contracting diabetes, heart disease, and experiencing cardiovascular events.

"But I have a desk job!" you say. "I can't leave the office," you claim. "Can't I jog in the mornings before work?" Exercising once during the day, even for an extended period of strenuous activity, does not combat the harmful effects of sitting for 8 or more hours. The benefits of a long run or intense spin eventually wear off. To avoid the health risks of sitting, you should be getting up for a walk every twenty minutes; and if that's too often, try to walk every thirty to forty minutes. Last year Diabetes Care published a study showing that glucose metabolism could be improved with a two-minute walk every twenty minutes. Simply adding to the number of steps you take each day can make a huge difference; whether you're walking around the block or up and down the office stairs.

Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all health related advice.

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