How does sitting for prolonged periods affect your overall health?
It is not a surprise that many of the medical conditions that we see in people who sit for prolonged periods of time are similar to what we see in patients who have obesity-related diabetes, high cholesterol, arthritis, joint pain, and high blood pressure. Sitting does not cause these diseases, but prolonged sitting means less time moving and less work for our muscles, which has implications of how we metabolize nutrients.
What happens to your metabolism if you spend all day sitting?
It slows down. A sedentary lifestyle, which includes prolonged sitting, means less work done by our muscles. Active muscles equate with higher metabolism and better blood sugar management. A healthy metabolic rate and appropriate use of nutrients by our muscles keeps our bodies in a healthy balance. Once this deteriorates, other parts of our health are affected, including cholesterol and fat metabolism, blood pressure, and joint mobility.
Does your metabolism slow down after a certain number of hours? If so, how many?
Metabolism slows with a decline in lean muscle mass. Lean muscle mass declines with prolonged sitting. We can’t say how many hours it takes to slow down metabolism since metabolism varies from person to person, and genetics, diet, exercise, and body composition also play a part. The bottom line is: The more you move, the more you’ll boost your metabolism.
How often do you need to get up to prevent your metabolism from slowing down?
We should aim to get up at least once an hour, but ideally we should try to move our bodies throughout the day. The concept of LISS (low-intensity steady state) exercise — walking at a brisk pace or swimming some laps — comes from the noted benefits of continuous movement (versus HIIT, high-intensity interval training).