Excessive sitting is strongly associated with how much fat surrounds your organs.
This is the most dangerous kind of fat, called visceral fat, and is waiting for anybody who spends a lot of time sitting.
The news of this association comes from research out of the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre in the UK.
• 124 participants at high risk for diabetes type 2.
• Length of sedentary sitting time was monitored over seven days using an accelerometer at their waist.
• Subjects underwent an MRI scan to measure amount of fat in their livers, other internal structures as well as amount of fat below the skin (subcutaneous).
• Physical activity levels and age were adjusted for.
The Alarming Results
The longer a subject spent sitting throughout the day, the higher the amount of liver fat, visceral (inner) fat and total abdominal fat.
The association was stronger for those who got less than 150 minutes of medium level exercise per week.
The “sitting disease” has rightfully earned its name, because intra-abdominal fat is hazardous to one’s health.
“We know that spending long periods of time sedentary is unhealthy and a risk factor for chronic illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease,” says lead study author in the January 2018 Obesity report, Dr. Joe Henson, Research Associate at the University of Leicester.
“Likewise, the amount of fat deposited around internal organs may also predispose us to these diseases,” continues the paper.
MRI Doesn’t Lie
MRI plus the accelerometers shows that the more time a person spends sitting (this excludes seated strength training exercises such as overhead dumbbell presses and lat pull-downs), “the stronger the association with higher levels of internal and abdominal fat,” continues the paper.
Adding insult to injury is that the association is strengthened if the seated behavior went uninterrupted.
The study authors note that at least 150 minutes of moderate-level exercise per week may provide some protection against all that sitting time.
How to Reduce Sitting Time in Everyday Life
This isn’t as difficult as you may think. For example, any time you’re waiting for something, stand.
This includes water to boil, your young child fumbling to get his jacket on, the blender to complete its job, you name it. JUST STAND rather than sit.
If you work out at a gym, do not sit in between sets, no matte how out of breath. You can catch your breath while standing.
Even if you deadlift or back squat an 8 RM, you do not need to sit to regain your strength and energy for the next set.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.