Research Update: Sit Less, Move More, and Improve Quality of Life

A Kansas State University study recently looked at the results of a massive Australian survey of almost 200,000 men and women between ages 45 and 106. Its goal was to determine how physical activity - or lack thereof - affects health and quality of life. Professors of Human Nutrition Richard and Sara Rosenkranz found that "physical activity and sitting time are independently associated with excellent health and quality of life." This means that being physically active and how long you spend sitting each day both have an individual affect on health, and the professors concluded that in order to improve health and age gracefully and successfully, one must sit less and move more.

The Rosenkranzes determined that the first actionable step toward achieving this goal is to try to break up sitting time. This may appear small or seemingly useless, but it is crucial. When a person is sitting for long periods of time there is no muscular contraction occurring in his or her body. This effectively shuts down the processes that stimulate metabolism – most notably the action of lipoprotein lipase, a molecule key to the breakdown of fat and its use for energy and for fueling bodily processes. The only way to ensure LPL and molecules like it will continue to do their jobs is to move around, or even just stand up, on a regular basis throughout the day.

Office workers who spend long hours sitting at their desks and staring at their computers could benefit immensely from an adjustable height desk or workstation. This would not only ensure the continuance of healthy molecular processes in the body, but also possibly upregulate them, or get them working overtime, and improve upon, rather than simply maintain an ideal level of health. This point is perhaps one of the most important in the study: replacing sitting work time with standing not only eliminates the negative effects of sitting, but it also has the capacity to improve one’s health and quality of life.

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