We know our diet and activity levels have a significant impact on our health and even our lifespan. But as many of us spend more time sitting than we do sleeping or moving around, we need to realize that this activity is becoming a significant problem. It’s time to add ‘sitting’ to the list of harmful and even disease-causing activities.
Due to TV watching, playing video games, work, and technology in general, many people are sitting for the vast majority of the day. If you work a regular full-time job and sit at a desk, it’s safe to say you spend at least seven hours of your work day seated. Then, you might go home and sit down for dinner, followed by sitting and relaxing on the couch. A conservative estimate would be nine hours of sitting—and how much activity are you getting?
Nine hours of daily sitting, by five work days each week—that’s 45 hours of sitting on your butt on Monday through Friday, not even including the weekends. We spend more time sitting than we do sleeping, and with sleep actually being a healthy activity, this imbalance is not good.
Sitting Causing Obesity, Cancer, Diabetes, and More
According to researchers, sitting is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and death. The strongest correlation between sitting and disease is with the risk of type 2 diabetes. What’s more, sitting strikes approximately 92,000 people each year with avoidable cancer, namely colon and breast cancer.
It’s estimated that obese people sit for around 2.5 hours more than thin people on any given day. So, sitting could be having a significant impact on the obesity rate, along with diet and lack of exercise.
It’s what happens to our bodies when we sit down that encourages obesity and obesity-related diseases. When we sit:
- Electrical activity in the legs shuts down
- Enzymes that help break down fat decrease by 90 percent
- Calorie burning drops to one per minute
- Insulin effectiveness drops after 24 hours
- Good cholesterol levels drop after two hours
If you sit for a living, your risk of developing cardiovascular disease is twice that of someone who stands on the job. Also, “sitting six-plus hours per day makes you up to 40 percent likelier to die within 15 years than someone who sits fewer than three, even if you exercise.” There is a reason sitting is said to be as deadly as smoking.
For many people, finding a standing job just isn’t an option. But there are simple ways to reduce your down time. Start by standing. Find a way to elevate your keyboard and mouse pad and stand to do your work. Or, invest in a standing desk if you work at home. Many people find this actually increases their focus and the quality of their work. If this isn’t possible, move around. Anytime you take a break, no matter how short—stand up! Go for a walk or just stand in place as you read a report, dictate a memo, or organize a file.