Continued Research is Needed for Inactivity Physiology

imagesA whole new field of study has developed in recent years called inactivity physiology. Think about this for a minute. You get up early go for an hour run or your typical 30-60 minute workout, then you drive 30-45 minutes to work. Once you arrive at the office what do you do most of the day? That’s right, sit in front of your computer and then sit in meetings most of the day. After work you repeat that 30-45 minute drive and possibly longer with rush hour traffic. After you get home you relax a bit, sit read the paper, sit more during dinner and then watch the news and more TV following dinner. Well if that is the case then (some) of the benefits derived from your bout of exercise earlier that day may be erased. Now I know you stressed your body in that hour run or some other type of workout session, you loaded your bones and muscles and alleviated some stress. This is all good. BUT, what I’m talking about is the sitting for the rest of the day – let’s be honest, we can all increase our activity level a bit more …don’t you think?

You need to increase the activity you do throughout the day – above and beyond your exercise session…it’s critical.

Inactivity Physiology (1) defined:

“Inactivity physiology represents a paradigm shift for how we think about how lifestyle causes disease. Simply put, the inactivity physiology paradigm says that “too little exercise” is not the same as “too much sitting” (physical inactivity) and that too much sitting has very potent effects on the body contributing to the most common diseases.”

To offset this try a few of the following throughout your day to increase daily activity especially while at work:

  • Build a standing work station at the office.
  • Kneel periodically at your desk (when checking emails) and stretch those tight hip flexors.
  • Get up every 30 min. if you have a desk job and move and/or stretch.
  • If your errands are <1 mile from your house – choose walking/biking rather than driving.
  • Have “walk n talk” meetings at the office rather than sitting at a conference table.
  • Whenever you use a cell phone make sure you get up and walk and talk.
  • Wear a pedometer and add 500 steps a day (goal: 10k/day) see Knudsen quote below.
  • Be the one who takes the dog out for a walk each day.
  • Limit watching TV <10 hrs/week.
  • Your goal this week: try to stand one hour each day over the course of the week.

“Aerobic capacity fell 7% in 14 days after reducing steps from 10,000 to 1500/day in active men not in exercise programs.” (Knudsen, 2008). (1)

Selected Reading:

Too Much Sitting is Hazardous to Your Health. Len Kravitz, PhD *read*

Are We Facing a New Paradigm of Inactivity Physiology? Br J Sports Medicine.

Is Sitting a Lethal Activity? NY Times article by James Vlahos

Genomic Aspects of Exercise, Inactivity, and Health, Frank Booth, PhD

Professor Marc Hamilton’s talk on Inactivity Physiology (note: start at 5:35)

Too Little Exercise and Too Much Sitting: Inactivity Physiology and the Need for New Recommendations on Sedentary Behavior


(1) Sine Haugaard Knudsen, Louise Seier Hansen, Maria Pedersen, Thomas Dejgaard, Jakob Hansen, Gerrit van Hall, Carsten Thomsen, Thomas P.J. Solomon, Bente Klarlund Pedersen, and Rikke Krogh-Madsen (2012). Changes in insulin sensitivity precede changes in body composition during 14 days of step reduction combined with overfeeding in healthy young men. Journal of Applied Physiology.


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