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Why Sitting on Your Butt is Bad Whether You Workout or Not, and What to Do About It!

By Ben Smith, Lead Health Coach at Fitness Interactive Experience

Most people suffer from what I will call “Slow Boiled Frog” syndrome.

As the story goes, if you place a frog in boiling water, it will jump out. But if you place the frog into cold water and gradually increase the temperature until the water boils, the frog will not make an effort to escape and it will die.

The story highlights the perils of complacency and how what an individual may view as inconsequential can ultimately have substantial impact. It’s the same reason your financial advisor tells you to avoid purchasing the $5 Latte every morning. It starts to add up!

We’ve become so accustomed to sitting 8-10 hours each day that many of us don’t even recognize that it is a serious problem. We go from our bed to our car to our desk to our couch, day in and day out. Some of us find time to get the U.S. Department of Health’s recommended 150 minutes/week of moderate activity, but most of us (a stunning 95% of Americans) don’t.

Sedentary behavior is one of the leading causes of preventable death, and has been referred to by the CDC as the number one contributor to chronic disease.
All the while, studies since the 1950s (Morris et al, London Transport Executive) have shown that sedentary behavior dramatically increases the risk of chronic diseases and life-threatening illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, colon cancer and breast cancer. Sedentary behavior is one of the leading causes of preventable death, and has been referred to by the CDC as the number one contributor to chronic disease. Over 800,000 Americans die every year from diseases that are entirely preventable. Let the previous sentence sink in for a second.

As soon as you sit, calorie burning drops to 1 per minute and enzymes that help break down fat drop by 90%. It’s no wonder that as we’ve transitioned to desk-based jobs, the obesity rate has doubled in America since 1980.

Simply stated, the human body is meant to move. From the size of our brains to our methods of thermoregulation, we evolved to efficiently move about the majority of our waking hours.

Americans who don’t meet the U.S. Department of Health’s 150 minutes/week minimum recommended amount of moderate activity
For humans, physical exercise and food procurement were inextricably linked for hundreds of thousands of years, but not any more. We’ve gone from subsistence level existence in a harsh environment to 24/7 access to high density carbohydrate/high calorie/low micronutrient fast foods in our climate controlled houses, cars and offices, and it’s led to record high levels of obesity, heart disease, and other highly preventable “lifestyle” diseases.

So what do we do?

We start by reclaiming control of our internal energy balance through regular sedentary disruptions. If we aren’t sleeping, we need to be moving a few minutes every hour, at minimum. We need to put ourselves on a steady IV of Physical Activity!

What kind of benefits can one expect from getting up every hour to perform a bout of light exercise?

You can expect a reduced risk of heart disease (i.e. clogged arteries), diabetes, cancer, stroke and all cause mortality. You’ll also have greater insulin sensitivity, which means you’ll have more energy, and more often than not, a smaller waistline due to the metabolic uptick.

So, next time you’re in the office, try sneaking in a set of 10x Push Ups off of your desk, doing 15-20x Squats or hit a One Legged Squat each time you get out of your chair.

You could also sign up for UtiliFIT and play anti-sedentary activity games daily! Not only will you accumulate points for your healthy behaviors, but more than likely you’ll pick up a few more along the way. You’ll be the frog that recognized the temperature change and did something about it.