Exercise doesn’t counterbalance prolonged inactivity

Jun 14, 2019 | Exercise

Exercise doesn't counterbalance prolonged inactivity

Have you heard the adage that “sitting is the new smoking”? Recent research indicates that sitting can counteract the benefits of exercise.

A newly released study conducted by the University of Texas indicates that sitting for longer than 13 hours can make you “resistant” to the positive effects of exercise, namely improved lipid, glucose, and insulin metabolism.  The study compared two groups of both men and women who sat for over 13 hours per day.  One group also spent an hour on a treadmill.  Both groups had less than 4,000 steps (outside of the hour of treadmill activity) each day. Each morning both groups were tested for a high-fat/glucose tolerance test. The test was conducted over 6 hours during which, plasma was collected and analyzed for triglycerides, glucose, and insulin. The result: there was no difference in the lipids, glucose and insulin levels in either group.  The study stated:

“It seems that something inherent to inactivity and/or prolonged sitting makes the body resistant to exercise preventing the normally derived metabolic improvements following exercise.”

This study also confirms that regular activity breaks are more effective than continuous exercise at reducing blood glucose levels.

We have always known that sitting can be detrimental to your health.  However, this latest study also shows that prolonged sitting cannot be counterbalanced by exercise.  Thirteen hours sounds like a lot, however, if you consider travel time to and from work can take 1 to 2 hours per day, sitting in at your desk for 8 hours and sitting to eat and watch TV can take 2-3 hours.  It is possible. The takeaway, endeavour to take breaks from sitting.  Some tips to consider:

walking meeting
  • conduct walking meetings
  • get up and walk when talking on the phone
  • park your car a few blocks from where you need to go or get off a stop earlier if taking public transport
  • try to walk after a meal
  • take the stairs instead of the lift


So the bottom line?  Take regular breaks.  Walking has also been shown to increase creativity. So take walking breaks.  If you would like some quick workouts to do if you are working from home, check out my 5-10 minute workout videos. They are a great way to break up your workday.

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