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You Can’t Learn to Dance Sitting on Your Pants. . .

A client of ours, Wayne Longcrier, turned me on to this study last year and I feel it’s worthy of a blog post today…

Australian researchers studied the power (negative power) sitting has on our metabolic health.  It’s a short, easy read and I definitely recommend you look at it here.  However, here’s a synopsis below:

Researchers studied how uninterrupted sitting affected metabolic health, (blood glucose and insulin levels which are the markers for diabetes risk).  They had three different conditions:

  1. Uninterrupted sitting – participants sat for 5 consecutive hours
  2. Sitting plus light intensity breaks – similar to the uninterrupted sitting condition, except that participants had a 2 minute walk break at a light intensity every 20 minutes throughout the day
  3. Sitting plus moderate intensity breaks – similar to the light intensity breaks condition, except that the breaks were at a moderate intensity

The figure below nicely demonstrates the basic protocol for the three conditions.

Uninterrupted sitting conditions for fitness study

In all three conditions participants were given a 760 calorie drink (think McDonald’s chocolate milkshake) and had blood taken every hour after to determine glucose and insulin responses in the bloodstream.

Generally, a drink like this (or any food for that matter) will create a spike in your blood sugar and hence, insulin as it is processed.  A more “healthy” person will have a lower spike because their body is better able to handle and process the big sugar dump into the bloodstream, whereas a less healthy person will have a higher and longer spike showing a little resistance to the sugar which is a risk factor for diabetes.  Essentially, their body is having to work harder to get the sugar out of the bloodstream and into the muscles and liver which has long term health consequences.

So What Happened?

As you might expect, blood glucose and insulin levels were higher on the days of uninterrupted sitting versus days of light and moderate activity.  But here’s the thing, it wasn’t a slight difference, it was a 20% difference!

Moving around often really matters.

Clearly, uninterrupted sitting isn’t good for you.  But this study also demonstrates that you don’t have to get up and do burpees and rope skipping to ward off the negative affects of ‘eating a sitting.’  The light activity and moderate activity days were almost identical as far as glucose and insulin levels were concerned.  And, sitting all day and then going to the gym may not be ALL you have to do to stay healthy and “in-shape” either.  As demonstrated by this study, even if one trained really hard in the evenings after work but sat all day long without moving much during work, they’d still probably experience the long-term consequences of elevated glucose and insulin levels.

The fact is, you need to move often throughout the day (just as I’ve said in previous blog posts about your vision and joint health).  Get up every 20 minutes and move around casually.  Walk down to the corner of the street and back, or over to the water fountain for a drink of water and then back.  And while your at it do a couple eye circles and hip circles or ankle tilts too (  Your body will really thank you by giving your more energy, positive thoughts and general well-being.  Plus, it’ll really pay dividends to your health, energy, and enthusiasm for years to come!

Until next time,


P.S. if you’d like a little more help with your body and health by all means take advantage of your free, private fitness and nutrition diagnostic consultation.  We’ll review your goals, discuss your options and recommend the perfect program to get you there.  Guaranteed!  Just Click Here!


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Posted on by spartantraining Posted in Exercise/Movement, General Health