In Fighting the Negative Effects of Prolonged Sitting, Fitness Helps; Physical Activity Does Not

Posted by: | Posted on: November 15, 2016


First things first, is there a difference between fitness and physical activity? As it turns out, there is a substantial difference between the two if the subject is combating the negative effects of prolonged sitting.

Besides, just because someone engages in physical activity, it does not mean they are physically fit. So, ultimately, fitness is what you truly need to escape the impacts of prolonged sitting, not physical activity.

The study that revealed this intriguing information focused on the effects of physical activity and fitness on the negative side effects of a sedentary lifestyle in seniors. It is an open secret that a sedentary lifestyle such as sitting for prolonged periods of time results in health problems such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other chronic illnesses.

Sitting slows the body’s metabolism, and this results in an impaired ability to regulate blood sugar and burn fat, which is why sitting for too long can cause weight gain and diabetes. But the study showed that even after meeting physical activity requirements for the day, these effects of prolonged sitting still remained in some people.

The subjects spent about 12 to 13 hours in a sedentary state throughout the day. And even though they did at least 2 and a half hours of physical activity per week, they still did not lower the risk of chronic illnesses brought about by too much sitting. This is despite engaging in physical activities like brisk walking, muscle training, and other highly-regarded aerobic activities.

What truly helps people who sit for too long roll back the risks of heart disease and other chronic illnesses is cardiorespiratory fitness. Cardiorespiratory fitness is the ability by the lungs and heart to supply oxygen-rich blood to the working muscles for extended periods of time.

This health attribute whittles away with age, and it is a good predictor for the risk of suffering from chronic illnesses such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. The study was conducted on the 496 women and 379 men, some of whom spent up to 15 hours a day sitting.

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The results indicated that those with cardiorespiratory fitness were safer from the effects of prolonged sitting, even in comparison to those who engaged in regular physical activity. In particular, the fit subjects had a 40 percent lower chance of suffering from the bad effects of prolonged sitting, even when they did not attain the minimum recommended levels of physical exercise.

But what does this study imply? Is physical activity pointless for people who are trying to vend off age-related chronic diseases brought about by a sedentary lifestyle? Not at all. Such people should just make sure that the physical activity they engage in helps to improve their cardiorespiratory fitness.