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Why sitting shortens lives and causes heart attacks:

Monday, February 21, 2011

by Dr.Gabe Mirkin

Researchers at the University of South Carolina found that men who spent more than 23 hours a week watching TV and sitting in their cars had a 64 percent greater chance of dying from heart attacks than those who sat for fewer than 12 hours a week (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, May 2010).

Many of the men who suffered heart attacks also exercised regularly. Their exercise programs did not protect them from the heart attack-causing effects of sitting in cars or while they watched television. This month, a review of the world's literature shows that exercise may not protect you from the life- shortening effects of prolonged sitting (Exercise and Sports Sciences Reviews, July 2010), and many studies show that animals (rats and mice) that do not have exercise wheels in their cages develop insulin resistance, have higher blood fat levels, are fatter, and die earlier than those who have the exercise wheels.

Now we have to explain:

1) Why sitting causes premature death and heart attacks:
• Resting muscles require insulin and respond poorly to insulin in drawing sugar from the bloodstream.
• North Americans eat a lot of refined carbohydrates that cause a high rise in blood sugar.
• A high rise in blood sugar causes sugar to stick to cell membranes, which kills these cells to cause heart attacks, strokes, premature death and nerve damage.

2) How exercise prevents premature death and heart attacks:
• Contracting muscles prevent a high rise in blood sugar by pulling sugar from the bloodstream without needing insulin.

3) Why exercise does not protect many people who spend a lot of time sitting in one place:
• Contracting muscles draw sugar maximally from the bloodstream during exercise and for up to an hour after you finish and tapers until you lose all of its benefit at about 17 hours (Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 July; 88(1): 51-57; Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 1983;245(5):R684-R688; Journal of Applied Physiology, February 2010).
• While you sit, your resting muscles do not draw sugar effectively from the bloodstream and 17 hours after you finish exercising, you have lost this benefit of exercise.

4) Why intense exercise is more effective than more casual exercise in:
• Preventing and treating diabetes (Circulation, July 2008).
• Preventing heart attacks in obese people without weight loss (MSSE, Oct, 2006).
• Preventing heart attacks than exercising more frequently (MSSE, July, 1997).
• Reducing belly fat (MSSE, November 2008) (storing fat in your belly is a sign of inability to respond to insulin).
• Preventing premature death (Heart, May 2003).
• Preventing metabolic syndrome and heart attacks (Exercise and Sports Sciences Reviews, July 2009).
• Raising HDL (good) cholesterol (Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, March 2009).

Further data to show that intense exercise is superior to casual exercise:
• The faster aged runners run, the lower their blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels (MSSE, October 2008, Arch Int Med, 1999;159(8):882).
• High intensity interval training maximally improves every conceivable measure of heart function and heart strength. (Exercise and Sports Sciences Reviews, July 2009).

Caution: Intense exercise can cause heart attacks in people who already have blocked arteries.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post

    This seems to say that the refined carbohydrate diet combined with sitting a lot regardless of exercise is to blame. And then finishes off topic by discussing the effects of high intensity exercise as compared to regular moving around exercise.
    Just noting
    One would think moderation is a better choice, apparently not, there is a last observation on exercise needing to be intense.

    2614 days ago
    I have seen tables that move from a standard sitting height to a standing height by simply cranking a knob. I know that at least one major office furniture firm makes one, I can't remember if it is Knoll or Herman Miller and possibly more. The table/desk that I saw was much less expensive and not made by either of these two companies.With light weight, thin monitors and wireless keyboards, it may not be that difficult to create something...hmm? Good idea!
    2615 days ago
    Good post! I would love to reorganize my desk to permit me to stand at my computer.
    2615 days ago
    Jack LaLanne believed in exercising in you chair when you have to sit and his old TV programs are show on YouTube where you can find the exercises that he recommended. He was a true health pioneer! emoticon
    2615 days ago
  • SILLYHP1953
    I would send this to my husband but don't think it would make any difference. I sure have to sit a lot at work, but don't watch hardly any tv at home.
    2615 days ago
  • JIBBIE49
    Interesting. Jack LaLanne lived to be 96 and worked out 2 hours every single day so exercise certainly has it's benefits.
    2615 days ago
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