All in Favor of Slimness, Please Stand Up

Want to lose weight? Get up out of that chair! The scientific evidence is piling up that sitting is linked to obesity, heart disease and diabetes. People who stand more tend to be leaner and healthier. Obviously, if you sit around a lot you probably aren’t exercising much, but exercise is not the only factor.

Apparently, the mere act of sitting shuts down circulation of an enzyme called lipase, which helps muscles absorb fat. Physiologists have found that standing up engages muscles and promotes the distribution of lipase, which helps the body process fat and cholesterol. Standing up also uses blood glucose and may help prevent the development of diabetes.

Sitting down, on the other hand, shuts off lipase. According to researchers quoted by Science Daily, sitting around too much can double or even triple the risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes. This is true even without factoring in actual exercise. Merely standing instead of sitting can burn an extra 60 calories per hour.

And all this time, I’ve been nagging my son to snack at the kitchen table instead of wolfing down food while standing at the counter. Who knew?

Run for Your Food

An article in the current issue of the New Scientist suggests that humans may have evolved the body shape we did to become good runners. And why would we need to be good runners? So we could eat. Our ancestors could get to animal carcasses first to scavenge and later, when they became hunters, they could chase after prey for long distances, literally wearing the animal out.

An anthropologist who studies modern African hunters says the practice of chasing down prey is dying out. It’s a bit too labor intensive.

I’m not sure the practice is dying out. I know plenty of people who scarf down a bag of chips then run an extra mile on the treadmill. Ah, but wait—we’ve got it backwards. What you do is put the package of cupcakes or bag of Doritos a mile away. Then run for it. Better yet, race your teenage son to see who gets there first.

By the way, anthropologists say large buttocks contribute to our ability to run well on two legs. The next time you try on a pair of jeans and blanch when you look in the mirror, blame evolution, not that extra slice of fudge marble cheesecake.