Did you know 56% of NFL players are obese? They may spend 4 hours at practice every day, but there are 20 other hours left to fill in a day. Those remaining hours count too. A phenomenon known as the ‘sedentary athlete’ is sweeping our nation and even if you’re not a professional athlete, you’re not immune. Those hours you spend as a couch potato may be hurting you more than you think.
Sure, you go to the gym every morning like clockwork, you head out for a run the minute you get off work, and you never miss a Bikram yoga class.
But what are you doing the rest of the day?
Sitting at a desk? Driving your car? Watching TV from the comfort of your couch? All of those minutes (or more precisely, all of those hours) you spend sitting add up. They add up frighteningly fast.
Sitting triggers the body to send signals to the brain- signals you don’t want your body to hear, like telling the genes that regulate fat storage and glucose control to take a break.
A study conducted by the American Cancer Society revealed that you are more likely to die if you sit for greater than six hours a day versus less than three hours per day, regardless of your other levels of physical activity. Women who sat for more than 6 hours each day had a 37% increased risk of death compared to those that sat for less than 3 hours. Men had a 17% increased risk. The risk increased to a frightening 94% for women and 50% for men that did not engage in regular exercise.
According to Discovery Fit & Health, as soon as you sit down the enzymes that help burn fat drop by 90% and your overall calorie burn drops to 1 calorie per minute. After 2 hours of sitting your good cholesterol (HDL) drops by 20%. Discovery also reports that sitting rates increased by 8% between 1980 and 2000, while obesity rates doubled.
You may not be able to avoid sitting all together, but make it a point to take mini-breaks throughout the day. Take a lot of bathroom breaks. Keep your cell phone in another room so you have to get up to answer it. Set an alarm on your computer to get up and take a lap around the house or office at least once an hour.
Maybe one day treadmill desks will become standard in offices across the country. Crazier things have happened…