Updated: Sep 19, 2020
Your favorite chair might be secretly plotting your demise. Your sofa at home? Might be slowly smothering your blood vessels in cholesterol. Your office chair? Definitely, plotting in the shadows.
"Wait, what? What's your beef with chairs?"
No beef. I love chairs. When I sit down, I enjoy the feeling of taking the pressure off my legs as much as the next person. But removing the stress on my legs might be raising my cholesterol levels.
"How To Sit" in the New Scientist magazine is a fascinating look into how sitting might negatively effect our health. For a long time we have known that hunter gather cultures have better heart health than the average American. We mostly assumed it was because they must be more physically active. Oddly enough we found that they rest the same amount we do. Around ten hours per day of rest is common. So what was the difference? When we rest we tend to sit in chairs. When hunter gathers rest they tend to kneel or squat.
"So? Rest is rest."
Research disagrees. When we sit in a chair we are able to shut our leg muscles down almost completely. NASA found that prolonged periods of sitting or laying in bed led to higher levels of a type of cholesterol called triglycerides. Triglycerides are a type of cholesterol that can lead to plaques in our blood vessels. See where this is going?
Muscles use triglycerides for energy. When we shut down such large muscle groups for long periods each day we lose the ability to scrub triglycerides from our body. The good news is short periods of getting up and moving throughout the day can fire those muscles back up and keep them scrubbing cholesterol from our blood stream. Chairs are part of life. But we can combat the coming chairmageddon by breaking up long periods of sitting into short periods of sitting. Get up and move around often. Use a standing desk when possible. Use a balance ball as a chair. Little changes could lead to lower triglycerides and fewer heart attacks.
Don't let the chairs win.
Live your mission.