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We’d all rather be outside than sat at a desk, no doubt, but now there’s even more reason not to slump in a chair for too long. Sitting and exercise have a negative correlation – too much sitting actually decreases the health benefits of our exercise.

A published study in Mayo Clinic Proceedings provides people with a new set of tools to evaluate the positives and negatives of running/sitting. In simple terms the study explores how to “subtract” the negative effects of sitting time from the positive benefits of running time.

According to a research team from the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center, each unit of time spent sitting neutralizes approximately eight percent of the potential benefits from the same amount of time unit invested in running. To put that in numbers, if you run for an hour, and then sit for 10 hours during the day, you’ll lose about 80 percent of the health gains from your workout. Astonishing.

“Our data suggests that sedentary behavior may increase [disease] risk through an impact on lower fitness levels,” Dr. Berry says.

The team from UT Southwestern offers plenty of advice on how to tackle the problem exposed by their research. Some of the tips are: taking a lunchtime walk, walking up stairs rather than taking elevators, standing while talking on the phone, holding walking meetings, sitting on a fitness ball instead of a chair, or using a standing desk.

“We found that when someone’s sitting for a long time, any movement is good movement,” says co-author Jacquelyn Kulinski, M.D. “If you’re stuck at your desk, stretch, shift positions frequently or just fidget. They all improve fitness.”

So when you’re back from the trail, don’t just slump down. Stay up, stay active and make sure the health benefits stick with you!

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