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Why not even exercise will undo the harm of sitting all day—and what you can do about it

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2. Sitting –> inactive muscles –> harmful biological signalingSitting also means your large postural support muscles, such as the quadriceps and glutes, aren’t doing anything. When active, these muscles produce a suite of beneficial molecules. “Skeletal muscles have an electrical activity in them when they’re working which is like the light switch that turns on all these healthy things in the muscles,” explained Marc Hamilton, director of the Inactivity Physiology Program at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana in a recentwebinar. When you sit, you turn these light switches off.

A widely studied casualty of this blackout is lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme that Hamilton likens to “a vacuum cleaner for fats in the blood stream.” When Hamilton forced rats to remain inactive for 24 hours, their lipoprotein lipase activity became virtually nonexistent (a 90%-95% reduction). This led to a more than 75% drop in the ability of their muscles to remove noxious fats from the bloodstream, as well as a significant decrease in “good” cholesterol (HDL cholesterol).

Hamilton has also found that just a few hours of sitting suppresses a gene that helps keep your cardiovascular system healthy by controlling inflammation and blood clotting. The worrying thing, Hamilton told Runner’s World, is after a day of sitting, exercise doesn’t seem to turn the gene back on. As the article pithily put it: “Sitting is the new smoking—even for runners.”


It seems we should put more emphasis on weight training of quads and gluts, which keeps our largest muscles working all day.

Also, you can squeeze a pilates ring between your legs while you sit.  No one will even notice.  :-)


I'm sold -- training quads and gluts is a good idea. 

As is a standing desk or sit-stand desk. 

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