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