How Sitting Is Making You Fat

Dr. Ariel Thorpe

If you have been diligently sticking to your workouts everyday, you may still be frustrated that you’re not getting the health outcomes that you are looking for. Much to our disappointment, we cannot out-exercise our sitting habits. Even if we are getting a solid 1-hour workout in everyday, if the rest of the day is spent sitting, you cannot undo the ill effects of that sedentary behavior. According to one Australian study, prolonged sitting is the reason for almost 7% of deaths, regardless of exercise. 80% of Hong Kongers sit for at least 4 hours a day. How many hours are you sitting everyday? How do you think that is factoring into your current level of health?

Sitting is responsible for over 100% of our risk of diabetes and 90% of our risk of cardiovascular disease. How is this possible? When we sit, blood tends to pool in our legs. Think about the last time you were on a long flight and if you took your shoes off at the beginning of the flight, how much harder was it to put them back on at the end? You feet were swollen, right? This is an extreme example of what happens when we sit at our desk for too long. The blood pools down there, keeping blood flow from our brain. Since our brain needs blood sugar to function, the brain sends a signal to release more sugar into the blood in order to meet its needs. When we have increased blood sugar, we don’t burn as much fat, so our fat stays in storage. This weakens our metabolism and causes obesity, diabetes, and heart disease over time. 

The easiest way to combat this is get as much movement in your body as possible:

  1. Stand up throughout your workday. Set an alarm to tell you to move. Use a google reminder. Drink out of a smaller cup so you have to get up more frequently to refill it. Whatever gets you up and about for a few seconds every hour. 
  2. Adjust your chair and desk to proper ergonomic positioning so that you get optimal blood flow. If you’re unsure of the position, ask your chiropractor at your next visit. 
  3. Break your workout up into small chunks throughout the day. You don’t need to do all 60 minutes at once. You can do 10-15 minute sets at a time and still get the benefit of your movements. 

The chiropractors at Atlas Chiropractic provide Ergonomic Health Talks and Workstation Consultations. If you would like this for your office, contact our office at


Humanics Questionnaire data from 222 497 individuals 45 years+ from parts Australia. van der Ploeg, H.P., Chey, T., Korda, R.J., Banks, E., & Bauman, A. (2012) Sitting time and all-cause mortality risk in 222,497 Australian adults. Archives of Internal Medicine.​

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