We need to stop sit­ting so much, es­pe­cially men

Males who sit more are more likely to be obese, even ad­justed for fit­ness

The Denver Post - - NATION & WORLD - By Danielle Dou­glas-Gabriel

If you have a desk job, it is pretty easy to spend most of your day on your bum. Even after you punch the clock, chances are there will be more time sit­ting be­tween your com­mute and the nightly in­take of your fa­vorite shows. You know you should at least walk a bit more dur­ing the day.

If you are like most peo­ple, it is dif­fi­cult to get mo­ti­vated. But re­cent re­search might push you in the right di­rec­tion — es­pe­cially if you are a man.

In a study pub­lished Thurs­day by the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion, re­searchers looked at the amount of time 4,486 men and 1,845 women spent sit­ting dur­ing work, school and at home. They ex­am­ined obe­sity among par­tic­i­pants, ages 20 to 79, by mea­sur­ing the size of their waist­lines and per­cent­age of body fat. No mat­ter the met­ric, the more men sat, the like­lier they were to be obese.

“Men who sat more were more likely to be obese, and that held even when we ad­justed for their fit­ness level,” said Carolyn E. Bar­low, who led the re­search team at the Cooper In­sti­tute in Dal­las. “The other risk fac­tors that we looked at — choles­terol and glu­cose — also were not as­so­ci­ated with sit­ting time. That was a bit sur­pris­ing.”

The re­search team asked par­tic­i­pants to re­port the fre­quency and du­ra­tion of 11 types of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, in­clud­ing walk­ing, run­ning and bi­cy­cling. Nearly half of the men re­ported sit­ting three-fourths of the day, while only 13 per­cent of women said the same. But even women who sat for long pe­ri­ods of time had lower levels of obe­sity than men, ac­cord­ing to the study.

Re­searchers did not pin­point a root cause for the higher rates of obe­sity in seden­tary men and said fur­ther re­search is needed to ex­plore the re­la­tion­ship. Bar­low said one lim­i­ta­tion of the study is par­tic­i­pants self-re­ported their ac­tiv­ity level. Also, par­tic­i­pants mostly were white, gen­er­ally healthy and well-ed­u­cated, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to ap­ply the re­sults to more di­verse pop­u­la­tions.

“We’re lim­ited to some de­gree with the pop­u­la­tion who comes in be­cause they’re all self-re­ferred or cor­po­rate-re­ferred pa- tients,” Bar­low said. “We def­i­nitely want to look at the changes in sit­ting time and how that as­so­ciates with dif­fer­ent risk fac­tors among pa­tients who come back to the clinic.”

The new find­ings build on a body of re­search that shows a re­la­tion­ship be­tween seden­tary life­styles and in­creased risk for chronic con­di­tions and pre­ma­ture death.

One study in the Di­a­betes Re­search and Clin­i­cal Prac­tice jour­nal found a con­nec­tion be­tween pro­longed sit­ting and Type 2 di­a­betes, which oc­curs when the body fails to use or make enough in­sulin to con­vert blood sugar into en­ergy.

An­other study from the Univer­sity Health Net­work in Toronto con­cluded that peo­ple who sit too much ev­ery day are not only at risk of di­a­betes but also heart dis­ease, can­cer and shorter life spans, even if they work out.

Peo­ple who ex­er­cise are at lower risk of de­vel­op­ing those health con­di­tions, but re­searchers said their ac­tiv­ity failed to en­tirely coun­ter­act the risks that came with pro­longed sit­ting.

Still, in­cor­po­rat­ing ex­er­cise into your day, in ad­di­tion to cut­ting down the amount of time you spend sit­ting, can lower the risk for di­a­betes, heart dis­ease or stroke, Bar­low said.

Even short, pe­ri­odic bursts of ac­tiv­ity can do the trick. And for those in need of re­minders, there is an en­tire line of prod­ucts that pro­vide an ex­tra nudge, track­ing steps and send­ing alerts to get you mov­ing.

There is even a for­mula to shake up your seden­tary rou­tine.

Ulf Ekelund, a pro­fes­sor at the Nor­we­gian School of Sports Sciences, found one hour of ex­er­cise — any­thing from a stroll in the park to bik­ing to work — is a good start if you sit eight hours a day.

In other words, for ev­ery four hours of sit­ting, you need at least 30 min­utes of ex­er­cise, Ekelund said in a study re­leased ear­lier this year.

You don’t have to do it all at once; sprin­kling some ac­tiv­ity through­out the day is just fine, he said.

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