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Can exercise cure the problems caused by sitting?

On some our education courses, like our Extreme Circuits Workshop, we look to promote the benefits of HIIT (High Intensity Intermittent Training) and sprinting, as these types of workouts are hugely effective in causing a rise in RMR (resting Metabolic Rate) over 24 hours and increased response of growth hormone, both of which will facilitate greater fat loss than longer, more conventional training sessions. But can performing 2-4 of these undo the issues associated with being sedentary for the rest of the day?

 

Research shows that the answer to this question is a resounding no! Even if you are already following a training regime that includes multiple HIIT sessions each week, continuing or adopting a sedentary lifestyle, will negatively affect your metabolism and may prevent fat loss or even lead to fat gain. Long periods of being seated and inactivity have been shown to lower the body’s glucose tolerance and negatively affect insulin sensitivity, both of which are closely linked with body fat issues. And reports indicate that 50-70% of people in developed countries, like the UK are considered sedentary (no leisure time physical activity and walking much less than 10,000 steps a day), and are seated between 7.7-8.1 hours a day.

 

Here are 3 pieces of advice to avoid the negative impact of sitting down all day:

 

We all know that being sat down all day is bad for your body (not just insulin sensitivity and body fat, but also negative postural changes and lower back and neck problems), and desk jobs are the primary culprit for fat gain and inactivity during the day for people who engage in high intensity workouts. Many people (myself included) now opt for standing desks or height adjustable desks, so you can limit periods of sitting whilst working, down to less than 30 minutes per day. Mix this up with a few stretches, taking the stairs, or even a few squats to stretch out, and this will have a much better impact! For me, the difference is a whopping 400kcals per day greater energy expenditure with 8 hours of standing v sitting...

 

If your job requires multiple meetings each week (or even daily), then maybe you should follow the lead of innovative companies that have removed the chairs from their meeting rooms and put in high tables. They have found that meetings didn’t last as long (attendees get very settled in the big comfy chairs), but that they were also much more productive in this time.

 

Grab a pedometer to monitor the number of steps you take, and strive to hit 10,000 a day. A study showed that when a young, healthy population was deliberately restricted to less than 5,000 steps a day, the reduced activity resulted in a significant 30 percent drop in insulin sensitivity and altered energy use.

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