How Bad Is Sitting?

April 15, 2012 · 1 comment

This is a guest post by Maire.

Did you know that sitting for 11 or more hours a day makes you 40 percent more likely to die within the next three years? If that is not enough to scare you out of your desk and onto the walking path over your next lunch break, then consider that sitting for eight to 11 hours a day increases your overall mortality risk by 15 percent. These are scary statistics, yet in a technology-driven world, many people are, often out of necessity, sitting for hours on end. Still there are products that help curb your sitting time. Treadmills and standing desks help long-term sitters get in daily exercise.

The True Danger of Sitting


It isn’t the act of sitting that is necessarily putting Americans in bad health – the lack of exercise occurring from long hours of sitting has created an obesity epidemic. Between the years 1980 and 2000, average exercise times stayed the same, yet sitting times increased by about eight percent in the last decade. During those same years, obesity rates doubled. The more people sit, the fatter they become.

Sitting also inhibits the enzymes that break down fat, decreases insulin effectiveness, and causes a drop in good cholesterol numbers. These are serious situations that put you at an increased risk of developing heart disease. In fact, you are twice more likely to develop heart disease if you sit all day than you would be if you did not.

It may seem obvious that sitting puts you at increased risk for heart disease, since you are not exercising that muscle very much when you sit, but what about another serious killer – cancer? In an analysis published by USA Today, sitting appears to increase a person’s risk of cancer as well. Between this and heart disease, it is no wonder that sitting is such a deadly proposition.

You may think that you are “safe” because you are regularly active during your down time. However, according to the World Health Organization, exercising daily does not do enough to balance the risks of sitting for extended period of time. Thirty minutes of exercise at night may not be enough to counteract a day of sitting.

The Solution

So what can you do if you are stuck in a job that ties you to a desk, but you want to lower the risks that come from sitting? There are excellent options to create a balance schedule. For instance, you can ditch your chair in favor of a standing desk. This means you will stand all day, which may not be very physically active, but still burns 10 percent more energy than sitting.

One option that many people generally aren’t aware of is the treadmill desk. This attaches everything you need for work to a treadmill, so you can walk casually while still getting your work done. Of course, should you need a break, you can also stop and stand for a while. Regardless, you will not be sitting and you will be healthier.

If these options do not work for you, then pay attention to the clock. If you have been sitting for an hour, you need to get up for a bit. Take a walk to the copy machine, head upstairs to discuss something in person with your coworker or go on a quick break to take a walk outside. These will all help you to be more active.

Whatever you do, avoid sitting for extended periods of time. This is not just to keep you trim and toned. Choose active leisure activities over sedentary ones. Your health and life may actually depend on it.

photo by: sunshinecity

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{ 1 comment }

Jeremy April 23, 2012 at 10:03 am

Great post. As a healthcare professional I totally agree about the dangers of sitting for extended periods of time. The body was created to move. Movement is life. One aspect not mentioned is that when you are in that sitting position for extended hours that puts undue stress on the spine and can actually start a slow decay process that will further keep you from being active down the road. This has adverse implications on the nerve system that will slow way down when we are not moving. Move and move often. If you have to sit, try using a stability ball

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