A study published in May in the journal 'Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise', reported, unsurprisingly, that men who sit the most have the greatest risk of heart problems. Men who spent more than 23 hours a week watching TV and sitting in their cars (as passengers or as drivers) had a 64% greater chance of dying from heart disease than those who sat for 11 hours a week or less. So far - so logical - However - here's where the research becomes rather surprising:
Many of the men who sat long hours and developed heart problems also exercised. Quite a few of them did so regularly and led active lifestyles. The problem was that the men worked out, but then sat in cars and in front of televisions for hours, and their risk of heart disease soared, despite the exercise. Worryingly, their workouts did not counteract the ill effects of sitting.
If you sit for long hours, you experience no 'isometric contraction of the antigravity (postural) muscles,’ according to an overview of the consequences of inactivity published this month in Exercise and Sports Sciences Reviews. Your muscles, unused for hours at a time, change in subtle fashion, and as a result, your risk for heart disease, diabetes and other diseases can rise.
The solution: Take steps to counteract the effects of sitting by taking exercise - wherever and whenever you can - be it taking the stairs instead of the lift, parking your car a bit further from the grocery store entrance than you would usually do, getting up every hour when working at your computer and so on. Well that's it from me for now - gotta go for a walk . . .
Jayney Goddard is one of the world's leading experts in the field of complementary medicine and natural healthcare. She is President of The Complementary Medical Association and is also a Fellow of The Royal Society of Medicine and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health.