Regular Exercise May Not Counteract the Effects of Sedentary Behavior

Young   businesswoman tired from sitting at her desk working in the office.

If you are like countless other individuals, you may spend a lot of time sitting. This could be due to habit, illness, injury, job requirements, or school responsibilities.

Regardless of the reasons for a primarily sedentary lifestyle, much research has indicated that this kind of lifestyle can lead to an assortment of health problems.

In fact, recent research has shown that even if you exercise on a regular basis, exercise alone may not be enough to counteract the effects of sitting for prolonged periods of time.

You may believe that if you sit for long periods of time but exercise daily, your regular activity should sufficiently minimize the effects of sedentary behavior. You are not alone in this assumption. However, various studies have proven that even those who exercise every day may be risking their health if they sit continuously for very long.

Muscle Inactivity Thought to Be the Link

Knowing that exercise alone may not counteract prolonged sitting is only one step toward determining a solution. You might reasonably wish to know the reason that exercising regularly doesn’t help to combat the health risks of excessive sitting.

This question is a logical one, and it has been a major reason for conducting several studies on the subject. One of the top factors linked to the health risks of a sedentary lifestyle appears to be muscle inactivity.

In one study, more than one hundred test subjects (all of whom were physically active and generally healthy) were given specially made shorts to wear. The subjects wore the shorts during the course of their everyday routines. The shorts were designed to record the muscle activity of the subjects’ thigh muscles.

Standing was regarded as activity; when the test participants exerted less energy than it takes to stand, the shorts recorded that as muscle inactivity.

During this study, the participants were given exercise guidelines to counteract the times when they remained sedentary. However, even when the test subjects met the recommendations for exercise, the shorts recorded their muscles as inactive for 65% of the total time involved.

When the participants were standing, their muscle activity was 200% higher than when they sat.

How Remaining Sedentary Can Affect Your Overall Health

During the muscle activity study, the participants had their triglyceride and cholesterol levels tested. The subjects whose muscles were the least active had higher triglyceride and cholesterol levels than the other participants.

Several other studies have reported similar results. When you are sedentary for long periods of time, your overall health is likely to suffer.

Scientists are currently performing further studies to determine the impact that sedentary behavior may have on a person’s health. Clearly, research has already indicated that remaining sedentary can have an adverse physiological effect on the human body. Further research may focus on the results of lack of movement specifically, instead of focusing only on the act of sitting.

Another useful point of focus may be exploring the mechanisms that influence sedentary behavior. Those who are currently researching this subject may also wish to develop an understanding of which mechanisms are generated as a result of a primarily sedentary lifestyle.

One detail seems to be clear: Sitting for prolonged periods can lead to health problems. The effects of sedentary behavior may include obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, anxiety, and depression. Exercising every day is vital to your health, but regular exercise may not be enough to combat the physiological effects of sitting for a long time.

One way to prevent such effects could be to stand up periodically when you must be seated. Simply standing to break up a long period of being seated could help to reduce the health risks associated with sedentary behavior. Walking is also an excellent way to get muscle movement and break up long periods of inactivity, and don’t forget to follow this up with a balanced diet.

Sports & Spine Orthopaedics