Does a sedentary job cancel out exercise?

It's thought that sitting for too long can slow down metabolism

There is growing evidence that sitting for long periods of time is detrimental to health, with links to diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Furthermore, it is thought that sitting for too long can slow down metabolism, which in turn impacts on the regulation of blood sugar levels, blood pressure and the body’s ability to break down fat.

A sedentary lifestyle, coupled with a job that involves sitting down for long periods of time, is having a detrimental effect on health for a growing number of people. Once commuting is factored in to a person’s day, they could easily find themselves sitting down for between seven and ten hours every day.

Even if an individual is extremely active for short periods of time, such as an hour’s gym session, their body will still be negatively impacted if the rest of their day is spent mainly sitting down.

Researchers from the University of Texas found that people who were sedentary for 13 hours a day and walked less than 4,000 steps a day risked becoming resistant to the health benefits of exercise.

The study, which compared two groups of people, found that following four days of inactivity, there were no changes in triglycerides, glucose and insulin levels in a glucose tolerance test, despite one group having carried out an intensive one hour workout on day four. This seems to indicate that the benefits of the strenuous exercise were cancelled out by the inactivity that surrounded it.

In other research, the Queen’s University Belfast estimated that a sedentary lifestyle could cost the NHS £700 million a year and lead to the death of 70,000 people.

To counter the negative effects of long periods of inactivity, it is recommended that individuals do short bursts of exercise every 30 minutes. This could simply be getting up from their desk and walking for two minutes.

Incorporating extra exercise of any type could reduce a person’s risk of developing a serious illness by half, while reducing their risk of dying early by almost a third.

Not only will exercise reduce your chance of suffering a stroke or heart disease, it will also have a positive impact on sleep and mood, and help fight stress, depression and illnesses such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Any type of activity that increases the heart rate will be beneficial. This includes walking and housework. However, vigorous exercise is thought to have additional benefits. You do not need to buy special gym wear or an expensive gym membership to benefit from exercise.

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