Is standing the new exercise?

burning fewer calories

Diabetes cases to top 48 million by 2050!  This was the CDC’s message 4 years ago.  A newly revised CDC prediction came out last week: double that earlier prediction.  And then some.  Over 100 million cases of obesity-linked Type 2 diabetes are likely by 2050.  The CDC claims the revised estimate was necessitated by population growth.  No kidding.  Not just more people, but more of them getting heavier and heavier.  Too many calories, large portions and a sedentary lifestyle all combine to increase obesity and diabetes risk.  This is no laughing matter.  Diabetes is expensive and debilitating.

Type 2 diabetes can be improved or eliminated by weight loss and exercise.  This means cutting back on calories and increasing physical activity.  Unfortunately, recommendations to be more active aren’t helping much, since the majority of adults still get little or no physical activity.  In a recent survey, people listed “food preparation” as exercise. Only 5% reported any vigorous daily calorie-burning activity.  But maybe we don’t need exercies; we just need to stop sitting so much.  Recent research suggests sitting might be a major unrecognized culprit cause of disease and obesity.   The survey of 123,000 men and women showed that the more time spent sitting everyday, the higher the death risk.  Sitting 6 or more hours per day led to the highest risk.  The lowest risk group was sitting for less than 3 hours per day.  Some employers are taking this idea into the office, using standing desks.  One Mayo Clinic doctor is so adamant about this issue that he uses a treadmill desk, and spends desk time walking slowly, at 1 mph.  He calls sitting “dangerous” and “the new smoking”.  Sitting does appear to turn down metabolic systems that encourage calorie burning, which means our sedentary lives are even worse for our waistlines than we thought.  It’s not simply lack of exercise; it’s practically anti-exercise.  And unfortunately there are endless reasons for sitting everyday:

  • watching TV
  • eating meals
  • commuting in a car
  • traveling or commuting on buses, trains and airplanes
  • playing video games
  • working at a desk/attending meetings
  • sitting at entertainment venues like movies or sporting events
  • reading and other leisure activities like crafts

The question almost becomes: what doesn’t involve sitting?  No wonder we have an obesity epidemic and skyrocketing rates of Type 2 diabetes.  At least food preparation is a stand-up activity, so no wonder some people think it’s exercise.  But this sitting study doesn’t explain whether it’s the sitting or the time spent not sitting that’s important.  Obviously if you’re not sitting, you’re doing something else: standing, walking, biking, strenuous physical labor or other activities that burn more calories than sitting.  You don’t need an expensive stand-up or treadmill desk to add physical activity to your life.

Copyright: All content © 2010-2019 Nutrition Strategy Advisors LLC. Photographs © Donna P Feldman, unless otherwise attributed. Reproduction or use without permission is prohibited.