The “Growing” Field of Inactivity Physiology

You have probably read an article or two lately about how too much sitting can take years off your life.  Research shows that daily exercise can be offset or negated if or when you’re sitting too much the remainder of your day.  Let’s face it – many of us have a tendency to sit too much.  A typical day for many looks like this: only a few hundred steps in the morning before driving an hour (round trip) to work.  During work, sitting the majority of the day at the computer and in meeting and sitting down for lunch. It’s not uncommon for the average person to sit for 6-7 hours at work, especially if they have a “desk” job.  After work, you have the drive home, and more sitting to watch the news and eat dinner.


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Even if you exercise for an hour each day, how active are you during the remaining 23 hours? Now I know you stressed your body during that hour run or exercise session, you loaded your bones and muscles and alleviated some stress.  That is all good.  But, what are you doing the rest of the day? After you take away 8 hours of sleep on average how active are you the remaining 8 hours when you’re not working or sleeping?

There is a whole new field of study that has been spawned called inactivity physiology that studies the effects of inactivity on the body from a physiological standpoint.

Inactivity Physiology defined as: 

“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.”

Try a few of the following tips to become more active during the day especially while at work:

  • Build a standing work station at the office.
  • Sit on a stability ball part of the day.
  • Kneel periodically at your desk and stretch those tight hip flexors.
  • Get up every 30 min. and move and/or stretch.
  • Take a walk and do some of those errands rather drive.
  • Have walking meetings rather than sitting at a conference table.
  • If you can take a call on your cell – walk and talk.
  • Wear a pedometer and add 300-500 steps each week from baseline measurement (goal: 10k/day).
  • Work on trying to stand one hour over the course of your work week.

Suggested 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


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