Sedentary athletes also risk health problems

Everyone knows it: anyone who makes all their journeys by car, sits behind their computer and spends their free time in front of the television is endangering their health. New research now reveals that even people who exercise regularly but otherwise lead a sedentary lifestyle are equally putting their health at risk.

To move

The human body is meant to move, because movement speeds up metabolism . This is the process in our body that ensures that food and other substances are absorbed into the body. Exercise produces more muscle tissue and reduces fat tissue. If you don’t exercise, your metabolism will decrease or come to a standstill. If your muscles, and more specifically the leg muscles, are not active, blood circulation slows down, you consume less sugars and burn less fat, which increases the risk of heart disease or diabetes .

The sitting culture

The prosperity society means that many of us have little or no physical activity and remain stuck behind the steering wheel, hunched over our keyboard or reclined in our lazy chair. This sitting culture poses greater risks of heart disease, diabetes and even depression. The American Institute for Cancer Research recently discovered that a sedentary lifestyle also significantly increases the risk of breast and colon cancer.

Exercise is not enough

But you’re not worried, because you exercise? New research has shown that people who sit for many hours a day die at an earlier age than those who sit less, even if they exercise regularly.

Until recently, it was assumed that anyone who practices sports for about an hour a day, in any form, or actively exercises, is physically fit. This statement now seems outdated. It’s a bit like smoking: it’s bad for your health even if you play football every day or do an hour of running training a day, because reality tells us that even athletes outside their sport often spend their time sitting.

In a study published in 2012 by the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity , an open online journal focused on diet and physical activity, researchers found that the average person spends 64 hours a week sitting, 28 hours standing, and 11 hours of exercise (not sports), regardless of whether he does the prescribed two and a half hours of sports per week. This means that he sits for nine hours a day, whether he exercises or not.

Keep moving

At the 2013 annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine at Illinois State University, it was found that people are 30 percent less active on days they exercise than on days they don’t exercise, meaning they may think to have done enough that day. Experts argue that this is an incorrect conclusion, because the hour of exercise does not outweigh the other hours they spend sitting, which are just as harmful to them as to people who do not exercise.

In addition, a sedentary lifestyle outside of your sporting activities can also have a negative effect on your sporting performance. The static sitting process causes certain muscles to become stiff or overstretched , which is bad for runners, for example. If you have done a long sporting effort, regular exercise during the day will promote muscle recovery.

Athletes who have a job that requires them to exercise are therefore better off than those who have a sedentary job, because the latter can rather be labeled as active beanbags . Anyone whose job requires them to sit often is recommended to get up regularly and walk around. Even taking a break from sitting for just a minute every now and then will benefit your health.

Custom office furniture

To make it easier to move around the office without neglecting your work, special, ergonomically sound office furniture has been developed. For example, you have computer tables that are quite high and against which you place a kind of bar stool chair. This way you can easily switch from sitting to standing without changing your position towards the computer.

The American branch of Groupon, for example, offers employees the opportunity to do their work standing up at the work station, but there is also the option to use so-called ball chairs or swings, which keep the body in constant motion, which promotes blood circulation.

Google has also been offering its staff customized office furniture since 2005. In California, people are testing innovative working methods. For example, there is a project underway where people work while stepping or walking on a treadmill. This is reportedly a strange experience because the upper part of your body is working on the computer and the lower part is moving. Only time will tell whether this is a step too far in the attempts to abolish the sitting culture.