June 1, 2008 Physiologists analyzing obesity, heart disease, and diabetes found that the act of sitting shuts down the circulation of a fat-absorbing enzyme called lipase. They found that standing up engages muscles and promotes the distribution of lipase, which prompts the body to process fat and cholesterol, independent of the amount of time spent exercising. They also found that standing up uses blood glucose and may discourage the development of diabetes.
You're probably sitting down right now. Well, by the time you're done reading this, you may see sitting in a whole new way!
"Chair time is an insidious hazard because people haven't been told it's a hazard," Marc Hamilton, Ph.D., a professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Missouri in Columbia, told Ivanhoe.
That's right -- the time you sit in your chair could be keeping your body's fat burning in park! More than 47 million adults in the United States have metabolic syndrome, which causes obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Biomedical researchers from the say the reason so many of us have the condition is because we sit too much!
"The existing data, by numerous studies, are starting to show that the rates of heart disease and diabetes and obesity are doubled or sometimes even tripled in people who sit a lot," Dr. Hamilton explains. One reason, he says, is an enzyme called lipase. When it's on, fat is absorbed into the muscles, but when we sit down, lipase virtually shuts off.
"Instead, the fat will recirculate in the blood stream and go and be stored as body fat or it can clog arteries and cause diseases," Dr. Hamilton says. And it's not a small amount of fat. Plasma samples were taken from the same person after eating the same meal. When they ate sitting down, the sample was cloudy, but when they ate while standing up, it was clear.
"If you can perform a behavior while sitting or standing, I would choose standing," Dr. Hamilton says. That's why he swapped his desk chair for a treadmill. Not ready for that step? "You can have just as much fun watching your kids play if you're standing by the fence, next to a friend who pulls out that aluminum lawn chair and is sitting there," Dr. Hamilton advises.
You can also limit chair time by taking frequent breaks at work to stand and walk around. Stand up while talking on the phone or even while watching TV.
Standing also helps shrink your waistline! The average person can burn an extra 60 calories an hour just by standing! "But just avoid the chair is the simple recommendation, as much as you can," Dr. Hamilton says. That's advice worth a standing ovation!
Another benefit to standing -- it improves your HDL or good cholesterol levels. People who sat reduced their good cholesterol levels by 22 percent!
ABOUT TYPE I DIABETES: This is known as an autoimmune disease, because the body destroys its own cells: those that produce insulin. When all those cells have been destroyed, the symptoms of Type I diabetes appear. These include unexplained weight loss; vision problems; more frequent urination; and feeling very hungry, thirsty or tired. Among other long-term complications, Type I diabetes means there is an increased risk of kidney failure, nerve damage, heart disease and blindness.
WHAT IS ARTERY PLAQUE: Plaque doesn't just grow on your teeth. It can also form inside your arteries -- the blood vessels that carry oxygen and blood to the heart, brain and other parts of the body. Arteries have an inner layer of muscle. When it is damaged, plaque can form, sometimes leading to a bulge in the wall of the artery. The bulges can grow big enough to cause the inner lining to rupture. The body responds by sending clotting fibers to the damaged site.
Minerals, especially calcium, can become trapped in the net of fibers, and so can fats like cholesterol. The minerals and fats build up over time, causing the arteries to narrow. Blood can't flow so easily through the restricted arteries. The arteries can also become clogged, stopping blood flow completely.
Editor's Note: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.