Prolonged Sitting Isn't Helped by Fish Oil, But Exercise, Fidgeting, and Standing Does Help

November 11, 2019

References: Appl Phys Nutr Met., Am Jr Phys Heart Phys,Inter Jour Mol Med., Cosmic Heart, Human Heart,

This is so sobering! You just can't sit for 3 hours at a time. It's a big, fat problem. It makes "endothelial dysfunction" in the walls of your arteries. The language that is used sounds like this: "sustained reduction in blood flow-induced shear stress" is what happens when you sit too long. 

What on earth is shear stress? You might be surprised to take a deep dive into how much is known about it. It's the nugget of what is actually happening in your arteries when a pulse of blood good by. Your arteries stretch, but they also have surface shearing on the face of cells exposed to the blood flowing by. They get stretched by that flow. That sets of "activation of ion channels and of G proteins, induction of oscillations in intracellular calcium concentration, alterations in the expression of various important genes, and extensive cytoskeletal reorganization". 

But that's not all. You thought your heart was a pump, pumping blood. Reconsider that. It is probably actually more like a hydraulic ram encouraging the momentum of swirling blood, all of which has negative ions on the surface that electrically and magnetically repel the cells from the negative ions on the surface of the endothelium. Just like fluid naturally flows down your bathtub drain in a swirl, your arteries may be much the same. Now, your bathtub is explained by the Coriolis effect of momentum, perhaps we are more attached to Mother Earth ourselves by magnetism and gravity. Your heart may be sucking blood more than pumping. (Read Cowan's book: Cosmic Heart, Human Heart.). But all that swirling and flowing causes your artery cells to have a special set of forces on their surfaces. Sitting screws that up. 

And you sit all day long. I sit all day long. Desks. Easy chairs. Televisions. Computers. Cell phones. Couches. Plays, concerts, airplane rides, car rides, church, temples, ...we sit. Prior to civilization, prior to chairs and leather upholstery, we stood and walked. The Hazda (the world's most Stone Age tribe) walk 29,000 steps a day. Yesterday I went for a 6-mile hike and put in 18,000 steps, but the day before, I sat and got 1,850 steps. Bummer.

That's the takeaway from this week. Sitting makes the lining of your arteries dysfunctional. They can't do their normal, proper shear-stress thing. Taking fish oil for 8 weeks won't fix it. Prior exercise helps a littleStanding eliminates it. Even "fidgeting" as defined by wiggling your leg for one minute every 4 minutes helps. Ha. Standing eliminates it. 

What's a modern office worker to do? We know what we should do. It's doing it that is hard. Stand. Standing desks, standing at home, walking.

WWW: What will work for me. I was quite inspired with a visit to my new granddaughter in Geneva, Switzerland. Her father (my son) stands at his desk all day long. Doesn't even have a chair. (Note the change of emphasis from son to the new "princess" who gets all the attention). We need to find ways to make this work. It's the getting up and down all day long that helps. Fidgeting helps. Getting up and down helps.

Pop Quiz

  1. What is your average step-count per day?                      Answer: About 5,500. Almost everyone else on Earth walks more.
  2. How does blood flow through your arteries?                    Answer: It probably spins through, repelled by electrical forces of sulfate ions on the surface of red cells, which explains how red cells can get through capillaries smaller than themselves.
  3. What is shear stress?                                         Answer: the normal ebb and flow, like seagrass in waves, over the surface of your cells.
  4. What is the problem with sitting?                          Answer: We have a reduction of that shear stress response because our blood flow is simply stopped and plugged up by sitting.
  5. What's the solution?                                                      Answer: Anything but sitting. Fidgeting will work, every four minutes. Standing is better. Walking wins.