Can Prolonged Sitting Offset the Benefits of Exercise?

sitting and metabolism

Sitting for long periods of time tightens our muscles (not in a good way), slows our metabolism, and can affect our body internally. What if you exercise a little bit during the day and then sit for a long time? Can sitting actually offset the benefits of exercise?

Sitting Negatively Affects Our Metabolism

Among the many benefits of exercise, it lowers your risk of heart disease and can increase your metabolism. Not surprisingly, having a sedentary lifestyle has the opposite effect. Lack of physical activity puts you at risk for heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes. We all know being inactive is bad on its own, but is it only because we’re not exercising?

In a recent study conducted by the University of Texas at Austin, sitting for long periods of time may actually counteract the metabolic benefits we see from exercising. The goal was to help researchers better understand the effects of prolonged sitting and physical activity have on metabolism.

Physical Inactivity Study

During the study, a group of 10 men and women were asked to limit their activity to less than 4,000 steps/sit for 13 hours a day for four days. Following the 4th day, they consumed a sugary breakfast and their metabolisms were monitored. Then they repeated the same 4-day cycle, but on the evening of the last day, they completed one hour of treadmill exercise. The following morning, they consumed the same fatty, sugary meal. Surprisingly, their metabolisms showed no signs of improvement that you would normally expect following exercise.

What Does This Mean?

Although the study was small and narrowly focused, it could suggest that sitting for a long time may actually counteract the metabolic benefits we see from exercising. Researchers call this phenomenon “exercise resistance.” Unfortunately, our jobs sometimes limit our ability to move. If you can help it, minimize the effects of sitting by getting up out of your chair and walk around once every hour. In addition, regular exercise (3-4 times a week) will help improve your metabolism.

Fore more tips on how to move better, come see me for a free fitness consultation!

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Nicole Brandner Personal Trainer at Elite Sports Clubs

Written by Nicole Pearson, Certified Personal Trainer and Group Exercise Director at Elite Sports Club – River Glen.

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