A new study has linked sedentary behaviour with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) such that even high levels of moderate to vigorous exercise will not counter the effect. Another way to put it, sitting for long hours is gradually killing you. The findings are published in the Journal of Hepatology.
Sedentariness means being at rest in a way that there is no increase in energy burn above the “resting level”. Sedentary lifestyles have over and over again been correlated with health problems, from high blood pressure to obesity. Now, new research shows that it also impacts negatively on the liver.
The researchers attempted to find links (if any) between sitting time and physical activity and NAFLD. Data from over 140,000 middle-aged Korean men and women were analysed for the purpose.
The results showed that almost 35 % of the participants had NAFLD. Sitting for long periods of time and decreased physical activity both independently correlated with the occurrence of the disease. This was observed in people with a normal body weight as well.
“Our findings suggest that both increasing participation in physical activity and reducing sitting time may be independently important in reducing the risk of NAFLD, and underlines the importance of reducing time spent sitting in addition to promoting physical activity,” says study co-author Dr. Yoosoo Chang, PhD, of the Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Kangbuk Samsung Hospital, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine in South Korea.
Michael I. Trenell, PhD, professor of the Metabolism & Lifestyle Medicine at Newcastle University in the UK, comments on the findings as follows:
“The message is clear, our chairs are slowly but surely killing us. Our body is designed to move and it is not surprising that sedentary behavior, characterized by low muscle activity, has a direct impact on physiology.
“With a dearth of approved drug therapies for NAFLD, lifestyle changes remain the cornerstone of clinical care. The challenge for us now is to ‘stand up’ and move for NAFLD, both physically and metaphorically.”