Olivia Judson on the influence of science and biology on modern life. Full story in The New York Times (February 23, 2010, 6:20 pm)
It doesn’t matter if you go running every morning, or you’re a regular at the gym. If you spend most of the rest of the day sitting — in your car, your office chair, on your sofa at home — you are putting yourself at increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, a variety of cancers and an early death. In short, regardless of whether you exercise vigorously, sitting for long periods is bad for you.
So what’s wrong with sitting?
Sitting is one of the most passive things you can do. You burn more energy by chewing gum or fidgeting than you do sitting still in a chair. Compared to sitting, standing in one place is hard work. To stand, you have to tense your leg muscles, and engage the muscles of your back and shoulders; while standing, you often shift from leg to leg. All of this burns energy.
Thus, a little more time on your seat today and tomorrow can easily make the difference between getting fat and staying lean