Sitting Too Much: How Bad Is It?

Thursday, Jul 16, 2015

How much time you spend sitting matters to your health. Even if you're stuck behind a desk at work, there are ways to get up and get active.

You may want to stand up for this.

Sitting for long periods of time can be bad for your health. New research was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine earlier this year. Researchers looked at 47 other studies and came up with this conclusion; "Prolonged sedentary time was independently associated with deleterious health outcomes regardless of physical activity."

In other words, sitting too much (six or more hours a day) can be hazardous to your health. It raises risk for cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and certain types of cancer (breast and colon).

According to the Annals report, the average person spends half of his or her waking hours sitting. That includes desk time at work, watching TV, commuting and other sedentary scenarios. For those who do not exercise regularly, sitting for long periods of time increases risk of early death by 40 percent.

According to British research from 2012, sitting for more than three hours a day can cut a person's life expectancy by two years.

What's worse is that going to the gym or exercising several hours a week doesn't seem to counteract the negative effects of sitting for long periods of time.

Don't take this sitting down

All is not lost. There are ways to increase your activity levels and decrease the time seated, even at work.

Tips for being more active at work:

  • Stand up and move whenever you have a drink of water at work
  • Take a walk after lunch
  • Stand up when you're on the phone
  • Take the stairs whenever you can
  • Consider using a standing desk instead of a traditional work station
  • Have walking meetings and brainstorming sessions
  • Walk and go talk to someone instead of sending an email or calling
  • Get up from your desk and do some light stretches
  • Replace your office chair with a stability ball

The American Occupational Therapy Association wants you to know there are apps for your phone (iPhone and Android) that can remind you to get up and move.

Reminder apps to stand up and move:

Move wherever you are

Current physical activity guidelines for adults call for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week, plus muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days per week. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reminds us we don't have to do all our exercising at once. Try spreading your activity out during the week. Or even break it into smaller chunks of time (at least 10 minutes) during the day – even at work.

Taking a 30-minute walk at work can decrease your risk of stroke, reduce your cholesterol and lower your blood pressure. If you'd like to track your steps to see just how much you are walking, a pedometer or various fitness apps will tell you. Aim for the recommended 10,000 steps throughout the day. Your body will be happy you did.

Tips to Combat the Dangers of Sitting

Follow Doylestown Health's board Don't Just Sit There! on Pinterest.

 

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