Prolonged Sitting Is the New Trans Fat: Avoid It

Within the last couple months I read somewhere that the adverse health effects of sitting all day long are not counteracted by an hour of vigorous exercise.  If true, that’s disappointing to many of us.

I think this is the research report that got the buzz going.

The investigators suggest you’re better off with four hours of standing and two hours of walking.  Easy peasy, right?

Some caveats.  It’s a very short-term small study of young adults (18 initially but three dropped out).  The “prolonged sitting” regime lasted 14 hours.   The health focus of the study was limited to insulin levels, insulin sensitivity, blood sugar levels, and blood lipids like cholesterol and triglycerides.

Where did I read, “Sitting is the new saturated fat”?

The investigators conclude…

One hour of daily physical exercise cannot compensate the negative effects of inactivity on insulin level and plasma lipids if the rest of the day is spent sitting. Reducing inactivity by increasing the time spent walking/standing is more effective than one hour of physical exercise, when energy expenditure is kept constant.

The Washington Post in July, 2011, had an article along the same lines (h/t Beth Mazur).

—Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference:  Duvivier BMFM, Schaper NC, Bremers MA, van Crombrugge G, Menheere PPCA, et al. (2013) Minimal Intensity Physical Activity (Standing and Walking) of Longer Duration Improves Insulin Action and Plasma Lipids More than Shorter Periods of Moderate to Vigorous Exercise (Cycling) in Sedentary Subjects When Energy Expenditure Is Comparable. PLoS ONE 8(2): e55542. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055542

Comments are closed.