You might think that vegging out in front of the TV, watching Games of Thrones is all you need after a hard day’s work, but it is actually killing you.
According to new research, remaining sedentary for long periods of time can cause liver disease, so, if you’re reading this from your work station, now’s the time to stand up and move around.
The Disease and the Study
In the study, Korean scientists followed nearly 1.4 lakh office going men and women in their 40s for two years who sat for 8 to 10 hours a day. Nearly 30% of them developed NAFLD or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; the condition in which fat builds up in the liver, which leads to cirrhosis and even death.
The study also found that those who spent more than five hours a day sitting showed up to a 9% increased risk of developing NAFLD compared to people who sat less than five hours a day.
What’s worse, the effect remained strong even among those who exercised regularly. At every level of physical activity the participants reported, those who spent more time sitting showed higher rates of NAFLD than those who sat less. The pattern was seen even in people with normal body weight.
The message is clear, our chairs are slowly but surely killing us. Our body is designed to move and it is not surprising that sedentary behaviour, characterised by low muscle activity, has a direct impact on physiology.
– Michael I Trenell, Professor, Newcastle University
The study has been published in the Journal of Hepatology.
What Happens When You Sit for Too Long
A study published in medical journal, The Lancet, equated sitting too much to smoking.
As soon as you sit down, the electrical activity in your muscles drops significantly and your calorie burning rate comes down to less than 1 cal/min
After only 3 hours of sitting, there is a decrease in blood flow.
Sit for 24 hours straight and the insulin in your body loses nearly 40% of its ability to uptake glucose, which ups your risk of diabetes.
And things only get worse from here.
After 2 weeks of sitting for more than 6 hours a day, LDL or the bad cholesterol is increased along with other fatty molecules putting you at a greater risk for weight gain. And the enzymes responsible for breaking down fats plunge.
And because of the prolonged inactivity, your muscles begin to break down.
Gradually the contractions become weaker and that ultimately affects the pumping of your heart.
Even if you work out regularly, the minute you stop moving, the deterioration begins in proportion to your sitting time.
And that’s the scary part.
Research shows, just as exercise does not necessarily counteract the effects of smoking, it doesn’t counteract the negative effects of too much sitting.
Just a year later, studies show women lose up to 1% bone mass every year.
Perhaps the most shocking.
After 10-20 years of sitting for more than 6 hours a day, you may have lost up to 7 years of quality life. That is years without medical issues or hospital visits. Your risk of cancers increase by 30% and risk of heart disease increases by 64% .
Doctors say that by simply standing and walking for five minutes in every one hour of an eight-hour working day - an average adult could burn over 2,500 calories over one month. That’s a third of a kilo!
Read about how you can squeeze small walking breaks in your busy schedule here.
And If none of those reminders do the trick, drink lots of water. When nature calls, you have no choice but stand up from your computer screen or TV-watching perch and trek to the bathroom.