I wonder if you have heard of The 27 Club?  A little chilling admittedly, it is the age at which some of the world’s greatest artists died.  Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Brian Jones and Amy Winehouse all burned with a wonderfully bright flame, but which was extinguished in their 27th year. They are all members of The 27 Club

That nugget of information came up when I was researching information around Systemic Multi Enzyme Therapy (SMET) and read that most people lose up to 40% of their muscle mass between their 20s and your 60s – and it usually starts aged 27.  Incidentally this ominous age of 27 also features prominently in the beauty world, as it is the age that therapists and experts believe your skin starts to fade and lose tone and elasticity.

The gradual loss of muscle mass is known as sarcopenia, and occurs naturally as we age - and at the same time we simultaneously gain fat mass, and see a big drop in strength too.

Although sarcopenia is a natural part of ageing, muscle loss is largely accelerated by inactivity - as we get older, we tend to move less.  Consuming proper amounts of protein is essential for growing and maintaining muscle, and therefore smaller appetites (as we age) result in eating less food and therefore less protein – as does having a vegetarian or vegan diet.  Hence my initial research into SMET.    

People who lead sedentary lives are also at greater risk of osteoporosis and may be more prone to falls and bone fractures. Again, this fear of falling may make some people more sedentary, which may reduce quality of life and put them at a greater risk of depression. It can be a real vicious cycle.

Experts are now warning that ‘sitting is the new smoking’ with regard to negative health implications.  Surprisingly, is not uncommon for an adult to spend half their day sitting down, either at work, whilst travelling, relaxing or ‘engaging with a screen’.   

As well as being detrimental to physical health, sitting has psychological disadvantages too. Health experts admit, “We don’t understand the links between sitting and mental health as well as we do the links between sitting and physical health yet, but we do know that the risk of both anxiety and depression is higher in people that sit more.” I remember being a guest at a Tony Robbins seminar when I was about 30.  The ‘well-respected wellbeing coach’ has the most amazing attitude and energy and one of the (numerous) things I have never forgotten from that seminar is that he said it is really hard to feel depressed when you ‘move briskly’.  He recommended ‘running up and down stairs a few times’ to lift a low mood and although ‘one size doesn’t fit all’ with mental illness, I have definitely witnessed ‘movement improving mood’.

When you are physically active, on the other hand, your overall energy levels and endurance improve, and your bones maintain strength.  Sitting for long periods can lead to weakening and wasting away of the large leg and gluteal muscles, which are important for walking and for stabilising you. If these muscles are weak you are more likely to injure yourself from falls, and/or from injuries when you do exercise.

Similarly, your hips and back will suffer if you sit for long periods as your hip flexor muscles will shorten, which can lead to problems with your hip joints.  Consistently sitting with poor posture will also cause poor spine health, such as compression in the discs in your spine, as well as stiffness in your shoulders and neck.


Humans are built to stand upright. Your heart and cardiovascular system work more effectively that way. Your digestion system also functions more efficiently when you are upright. Moving your muscles helps your body digest the fats and sugars you eat. If you spend a lot of time sitting, digestion is not as efficient, so you retain those fats and sugars as fat in your body.

And even if you do exercise but still spend a large amount of time sitting down, you are still risking health problems, such as metabolic syndrome. The latest research suggests you need 60–75 minutes per day of moderate-intensity activity to combat the dangers of excessive sitting.

In a recent study, health coaches reduced sitting time for a group of older adults by just over 30 minutes a day.  It led to a reduction of nearly 3.5 points in their average blood pressure.  By comparison, increased physical activity typically leads to an average 4-point reduction in blood pressure and weight loss an average 3-point reduction.  This suggests that it’s not all about ‘traditional exercise’ as such, but just by ‘moving more and sitting less’ you can reap many benefits.  

One study found that men who watch more than 23 hours of television a week have a 64 per cent higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than men who only watch 11 hours of television a week, and some experts say that people who are inactive and sit for long periods have a 147 per cent higher risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke. Further research suggests that people who spend more time sitting have a 112 per cent higher risk of diabetes too.   There’s no doubt about it – ‘extreme sitting’ is seriously bad for your health.

It’s not difficult to understand that by ‘serious sitting’, you burn fewer calories, making you more likely to gain weight.   You may lose muscle strength and endurance, because you are not using your muscles as much.  Your bones may get weaker and lose some mineral content.  Your metabolism may be affected, and your body may have more trouble breaking down fats and sugars. Your immune system may not work as well, as it becomes sluggish. You may have poorer blood circulation and more inflammation and you are more likely to develop a hormonal imbalance.

Many experts recommend getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity every week but I think it’s clear that if the word ‘exercise’ makes you want to flop on the couch with a bag of crisps and the remote control, then just ‘moving’ is actually going to help your health.  We all know that regular walks help – as well as the benefits of being out in the fresh air -  but just moving about more indoors will help too.  Get moving during the TV adverts – and that doesn’t mean walking to the fridge or biscuit cupboard.  Walk around when you’re on the phone (in work or at home), clear out those cluttered cupboards and drawers (that’ll improve your mood too), do some gardening (or housework) and of course if you can find a form of exercise that you enjoy, then so much the better.  Exercising in groups or with friends has proven to have many advantages from laughter to increased motivation.  Consider a suitable exercise class, swimming, walking groups, Tai Chi, or a dance class.

At a time where we struggle to get an appointment with the doctor or dentist, but can have any type of food delivered to our door at any time of day without moving from the couch, it is even more important to stay healthy and ‘keep moving.’