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Sitting Down All Day May Sabotage Your Gym Visit

A new study suggests that sitting down for 13 hours a day could cause problems regardless of your gym membership.

The study, reported in the Journal of Applied Physiology, found that people who sat for long periods and took fewer than 4,000 steps a day developed metabolic problems, even if they exercised.

"Data indicates that physical inactivity -- e.g. sitting for about 13.5 hours a day and taking less than 4,000 steps a day -- creates a condition whereby people become 'resistant' to the metabolic improvements that are typically derived from an acute bout of aerobic exercise," said the researchers.

Yep, all that sitting you do at work could actually be negating any workouts. Great news for all of us who work in offices.

Scientists at the University of Texas at Austin asked a group of 10 healthy, physically active graduate students to stop moving as much as they normally would for four days, and take fewer than 4,000 steps each day, staying seated and still for at least 13 hours.

On the morning of the fifth day, the volunteers were given a large breakfast shake composed of milk and melted ice cream -- to see how their metabolisms would cope with the fat and sugar after being idle for days. The researchers monitored their blood for triglycerides, blood sugar and insulin for the next six hours.

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Image: Getty

Then they sat around again for four days doing nothing.

At the end of the fourth day, the researchers asked them to run briskly for an hour on treadmills at the lab.

Then they all got another shake. And then they were tested again.

What they found was kind of shocking.  It turned out that even just four days of virtually no exercise had left the students with somewhat sluggish, overtaxed metabolisms. Hours after the second shake they displayed high levels of triglycerides and blood sugar and low insulin sensitivity, even on the day they had exercised to "run it off."

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The  results kind of speak for themselves -- being sedentary for long periods of time may create conditions inside our bodies that stop some of the good effects of being active -- and "make us resistant to the usual metabolic improvements after acute exercise,” Edward Coyle, a professor of kinesiology at UT-Austin and senior author of the study told the New York Times.

In other words, if we sit too much, our workouts don't really work as well.

While the study was small and inconclusive, it certainly shows issues that need to be explored further.

Time to get that stand up desk, or at the very least, get up and walk around as much as you can at work. Or get a job as a tour guide?

Feature image: Getty