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How Bad Is Sitting All Day at Work, Really?

Illustration by John Kenzie
Illustration: John Kenzie

“After you sit for just 30 minutes, your metabolism slows 90 percent. This means that the enzymes that move bad cholesterol to muscles also slow, allowing this fatty substance to stay in your arteries. After you sit two hours, good cholesterol circulating in the arteries drops 20 percent. This allows bad cholesterol to move into the lining of the blood vessels, forming the plaque that can cause heart attacks and strokes. Over time, prolonged sitting can also lead to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and obesity. The good news is, your metabolism can be boosted again simply by walking around for just five minutes, bringing bad cholesterol to the liver, where it’s used to make hormones the body needs. Considering that so many people are at a desk all day, while only about 15 percent of the U.S. population still smokes, you could argue that sitting is an even greater threat to global public health than cigarettes.” — Annabelle Santos Volgman, medical director of the Rush Heart Center for Women at Rush University Medical Center

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