Sitting Disease, part #2

Exercise and Sitting Disease

Click here to read the first part of the sitting disease series.

What about the fact that regular vigorous exercise doesn’t necessarily save us from sitting disease?

We have two kinds of muscle cells in our bodies, fast twitch white muscle cells (they take care of vigorous exercise) and red, slow muscle cells (the NEAT activity cells). The vast majority of our muscle cells are slow red muscle cells).

It appears that our NEAT cells only respond to the gentle muscle contractions that are typical to physical activities like walking and doing simple household chores. As much as you would like to, you can’t “activate” those cells by running or doing 50 crunches!


Recent research has revealed that prolonged sitting shuts down the NEAT cells that are involved in breaking fat molecules.  That’s why sitting for long periods of time is so dangerous for health and also why vigorous exercise isn’t an antidote to sitting disease. Remember, in worst case we might sit even 15 hours a day.

The good news is that you can switch NEAT cells on again by simply getting up from your chair. In my opinion, even better news is the fact that NEAT activity is especially good for burning belly fat: you don’t need to run or do those 50 crunches to get rid of belly fat.


I can personally attest to the power of NEAT. Since I bought my Omron Hj-113 pocket pedometer and started increasing my daily steps and other physical activity, I have become much more energetic than I “normally” am.

The best thing is that in the morning I spend no time wondering how to get myself out of the bed. I just jump right out of the bed and get going.  🙂

Better to Live on Your Feet Than Die on Your Seat / James Levine





  1. Great saying
    Better to Live on Your Feet Than Die on Your Seat / James Levine.
    Thanks for making it part of the post

    • Satu says:

      You are welcome, Robert! I wanted to to include the saying exactly because it’s so great. I really think we have lost something important since we have stopped being physically active.

  2. It is great to get the science and muscle breakdown. I haven’t seen that in some of the other “sitting too much” articles. Are you familiar with A little causal site helping to build awareness. Will link this blog also thru @juststandnews on Twitter. Thanks!

  3. Very interesting post! I never heard about this book and its ideas before but I actually did work at hospitals affiliated with Mayo Clinic in the 80’s. They have the best doctors there–so that says a lot in favor of these ideas. Further, many people do not like the gym at all. So it does make sense to have a solution that is reasonable for most people. However, I agree with you that increasing exercise to that degree does not seem realistic for most people. 🙂 Marion

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