Move It So You Can Lose It: Why We Shouldn’t Sit For More Than 3 Hours


The Truth About the Balance Between Eating, Rest, and Moving

It is a well known fact that obesity is on the rise and we are not making much progress with battling this epidemic. It is also well known that activity burns calories and helps us to lose or at least maintain our weight. Knowing that an active body is a healthier body, what are the benefits of moving more and how can we achieve our 10,000 daily steps?

The health benefits of regular activity are far reaching. When we consume foods, especially those high in sugar or fat, our bodies secrete an array of compounds designed to help us either synthesize energy to fuel our cells or as building blocks for things like muscle protein. The resources we consume but don’t need for immediate use are then stored as FAT. When we are more active, either while we eat or while we work, the items we consume must be burned for fuel. The bottom line is if you don’t move it, you will gain it and ultimately lose it—the battle of the bulge that is!!

Yes, the endless fight we all seem to have to battle is our metabolism. When we eat, we raise our insulin levels in our blood stream to help us use and store sugar. Activity can help to lower the sugar surge and thus the insulin surge that follows. The trick to outsmarting our fat cells is to lower our insulin levels and only eat for your immediate fuel needs.

In prior centuries, before food was so plentiful and readily available, it made sense for our bodies to be excellent at storing sources of fuel. Our bodies are exquisitely designed to conserve energy. When we go too long between eating or eat too much at once, the delicate balance of metabolism shifts and we store fat! Getting off balance will leave us at risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, as well as for heart attacks and strokes.

Exercise and activity are perfectly designed to counter fat cells by helping to burn recently consumed fats and sugars for energy, which releases less insulin into our blood streams and stores less of energy as fat. The simple fact is that the less we move, the slower our metabolism becomes as we adapt to needing less calories. So merely restricting calories tends to have an adverse effect by actually lowering metabolism. The trick to weight maintenance and eventual loss is to move!

Some Facts in The Sitting Vs. Moving Debate

Do you know that 67% of us are sedentary for more 20 hours a day? On top of the 6-8 hours of sleep each night, most of our waking life is spent watching TV, playing video games or sitting at a desk at work for too much of our day. No wonder we have trouble keeping our waistlines whittled down. Studies have shown that by standing or walking for 5 of every 30 minutes during our work day, we can burn as many as 2500 calories in a month, which is almost a pound! Studies have also shown that the average person burns about 30 more calories an hour when standing vs sitting. That’s 1200 calories in a 40 hour week!

Tips To Burn More Calories During Your Day

• Stand while you talk on the phone
• Put your lap top on a high table to burn while your earn
• Get up from your desk to hit the water cooler often
• Take the stairs whenever you can
• Water your garden with a watering can that needs refilling rather than the hose
• Do squats in your bathroom as you brush your teeth
• Sit on a Bosu Ball while you are at your desk for core strengthening

A study done by the University of Utah published in 2013 in the Journal of Health Promotion found that even brief bursts of high intensity physical activity, such as carrying laundry up the stairs, resulted in a 0.7 reduction in BMI (body mass index), which is based on weight and height, for every 10 minutes spent in such activities. And pacing while you talk on the phone for 20 minutes can be just as effective as a gym session at burning calories.

In the end, when you move more and eat smarter and STAND UP, you STAND to lose instead of gain… and in the fight to end the battle of the bulge, winning really is the pot of gold. Your health and your life depend on it!

So take the winning STAND!
Until next time, here’s to your health.

Elizabeth Salada MD MPH
Internal Medicine and Wellness

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