Monday, May 16, 2011

The Straight Dope: Attack of the Killer Chair


Attack of the Killer Chair

Quick Get out of that Chair!

An article on the evils of sitting appeared recently in the NY Times that begins with the line “the chair is your enemy.” It goes on to state how sitting can lead to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and a premature death before concluding, “irrespective of whether you exercise vigorously, sitting for long periods is bad for you.”
With such a strong into I was left a little disappointed by the piece. I was hoping for, perhaps, a biomechanical analysis of how sitting shut down a critical function or put strain on something we hadn’t previously considered. But, alas, the findings were a bit more logical. The meat of the article simply showed the relationship between those who sat a lot compared to those who didn’t, which found that the former group was far less healthy. This was almost “duh files” stuff.

It finally bothered with some science, right near the end, by citing an example using lipoprotein lipase. The implication being that sitting shut down a large part of your metabolic processes that could, over time, lead to weight gain. And while this wasn’t the zinger I was hoping for it was still a nice reminder to take breaks at work and stop vegging out for hours in front of a TV or computer.

So while the chair might not be the demonic villain we were hoping for, it also shouldn’t be lionized in Al Bundyian fashion as the pinnacle of hedonism. The human body was designed for movement and use it or lose it is not just a cliché. But you knew that already, right?


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