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Run for an hour? Sitting negates those health benefits, study says

New study reveals that running won't protect you from the negative health effects of sitting.
New study reveals that running won't protect you from the negative health effects of sitting.
Photo by Handout/Getty Images

After pounding the pavement for an hour, you can almost feel your body respond positively. Your body amps up its calorie burn, your heart pumps a bit more efficiently and your attitude improves.

But, if you are chained to a desk during your day job, these benefits may be short-lived. A new study published in July's Mayo Clinic Proceedings has revealed that each unit of time that you spend sitting each day, cancels out eight percent of any health gains during an equal unit of time spent running.

If you run for an hour in the morning before work, for instance, and head to your desk job to sit for the next six hours, you will lose approximately 48 percent of the health benefits that you gained during your run.

While it may look bad for runners, it's even worse for those that engage in moderate-intensity exercise. The University of Texas Southwest Medical Center found that instead of an eight percent reduction per unit of time, moderate-intensity exercisers experienced a 16 percent reduction per unit of time.

The lead study researcher, Dr. Jarett Berry, and his colleagues, came to this conclusion by analyzing data obtained from the National Education and Nutrition Examination Survey, known as NHANES. An annual survey, NHANES was designed to assess the diet and fitness habits of the U.S. The survey conducted in 2003-04 included objective treadmill tests and accelerometer data. This data showed how much the more than 2,220 subjects moved around and sat in the period of one day.

Dr. Berry notes, "Our data suggest that sedentary behavior may increase [disease] risk through an impact on lower fitness levels."

The data enabled researchers to draw exact correlations related to exercise and sitting. While men and women have different responses to exercise, the data demonstrated that their response to sitting was the same.

Jacquelyn Kulinski, M.D., co-author of the study, noted that even if you are stuck sitting for a long period of time, making any type of movement is considered beneficial. "If you’re stuck at your desk, stretch, shift positions frequently or just fidget. They all improve fitness."

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