Sitting Down Makes You Fat

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    Jun 18, 2008 9:34 PM GMT
    Another reason to get up and walk around for those of us who are stuck at a desk. Interesting article.

    A new study done by researchers at the University of Missouri and published in the journal Diabetes has shown that when humans sit for too long, production of our bodies’ fat-burning enzymes literally shuts down.

    Not a good sign for an increasingly sedentary workforce, says Marc Hamilton, the study’s lead author and a professor of biomedical sciences at the university.

    The issue goes beyond the fact that when we sit, we’re not burning enough calories, says Hamilton. It’s that we’re not getting enough of what he terms "intermittent nonexercise physical activity," which keeps those enzymes working. In other words, unless we get up periodically and simply stand up or walk around, our ability to burn fat diminishes greatly.

    The mice in the study had their levels of a fat-burning enzyme called lipase reduced to 10% of normal after several hours of sitting (in tiny little chairs, one imagines, as it’s hard to picture a "seated" mouse). "It's just virtually shut off," said Hamilton to ABC News reporters.

    Human volunteers, including Hamilton, also took part in the study, and their results were similar to the mice. The subjects had a small amount of fatty tissue removed for study, and after being seated for several hours, their levels of lipase were greatly reduced as well. In addition, levels of HDL, the "good" cholesterol, were reduced, as well as overall metabolic function.

    Much of the study’s results echo common sense – if you don’t get up a move every once and a while, you’re going to get fatter. But the study shows that even what we do – or don’t do – while not exercising can affect weight gain. Hamilton says the study portends poorly for the overall health of humans, as our society becomes more and more sedentary with technological advances.

    Wrote Hamilton in the report, "…the dire concern for the future may rest with growing numbers of people unaware of the potential insidious dangers of sitting too much and who are not taking advantage of the benefits of maintaining nonexercise activity throughout much of the day."

    Hamilton also predicts that more studies will be done, as researchers aim to find out more about how we can counteract this effect. Said Hamilton to reporters, "There is going to be a flood of research on this in the next couple of years, and not just by us. This has raised the attention of a lot of great scientists around the world who have begun doing their own studies."

    For now, use common sense to keep your fat-burning enzymes from shutting down. If you’re stuck at a desk job, get up every once in a while, and if you’re watching TV, walk around during the commercials.

    I wonder if getting up to grab a bag of chips would count?
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    Jun 19, 2008 2:23 AM GMT
    That's interesting. I'm on the telephone literally all day at work, but I have a headset with a long cord and I walk around constantly while I'm talking unless I have to use the computer.

    Who knew I was doing myself some good all the time?