Sitting May Be the New Smoking

Student in web-design working in officeYou’ve checked all the boxes for a long and healthy life. You don’t smoke. You exercise a few times a week. You watch what you eat. But are you sitting down right now?

The average American adult spends between seven and eight hours a day sitting down, and experts think it is shaving off  a few years of their lives. Sedentary people are more prone to all sorts of health problems, from cancer to heart disease. Even those who exercise.

It all has to do with something called NEAT, or nonexercise activity thermogenesis. NEAT is the energy you expend by doing everyday things, like walking to the bathroom or brewing a pot of coffee. This energy adds up; a person can burn 500 to 1,000 NEAT calories a day without ever breaking a sweat. By comparison, an hour of jogging burns roughly 500 calories.

A sedentary body isn’t expending much energy, so very few calories are burned. But it isn’t just the calories that count. According to TIME magazine, NEAT energy stokes the activity signals in your body. Without NEAT, those molecules get bored and make way for the fat molecules. This makes a sedentary person lethargic. It becomes harder to get up and move.

The good news? You can reverse the trend just by changing your work style and standing up more often. Next time you’re on the phone, pace the room. Hold an office meeting without any chairs. Put your laptop on the counter and type standing up. If it’s comfortable, buy a standing desk or a “riser” which extends upward from your desk to create a standing-height work surface. According to The Bottom Line, you can add about two years to your life by cutting your sitting time in half.

Now isn’t that NEAT?

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