The Hidden Dangers of Sitting
Prolonged sitting has become a hazard of modern life. Whether we’re sitting in traffic, sitting at work, or sitting in front of the TV, the average American adult spends as much as six to 13 hours a day sitting.1
Sedentary behavior is regarded as a significant predictor of chronic diseases like heart disease.2 It is more imperative than ever that we change our lifestyle habits and spend less time sitting and more time moving.
Facts Behind The Dangers Of Sitting
Sitting, lounging, reclining, any activity that involves little-to-no movement for an extended period of time is regarded as sedentary behavior. Americans now spend more time sitting than ever before. Outside of work and school, from 2007 to 2016 screen time increased from 5.5 to 6.4 hours a day among adults, and 7.0 to 8.2 for adolescents.
Scientists reason that sitting for prolonged periods of time can negatively affect sugar and fat metabolism and as a result, increase your risk of diabetes and heart disease.3
According to the World Health Organization, a sedentary lifestyle or prolonged ‘physical inactivity’ can lead to life-shortening disease:
- Physical inactivity has been identified as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality (6% of deaths globally).
- Physical inactivity is estimated to be the main cause for approximately 30% of ischaemic heart disease burden.
Approximately 3.2 million deaths each year are attributable to insufficient physical activity.4,5
The Hidden Dangers Of Sitting
Sitting for long stretches of time is one of the worst things you can do for the health of your heart.6 Prolonged physical inactivity can lead to:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Arterial damage
- Increased risk of blood clots
- Heart disease
10 Tips To Help Combat The Effects Of Prolonged Sitting At Work
Try some of these healthy tips and exercises and steer clear of the dangers of sitting:
- Every 30 minutes get up and move or stretch for 1-3 minutes.
- Set yourself an alarm or download an app to remind you to move.
- While on the phone, stand up and walk around the room.
- Alternate 30 minutes of sitting with 30 minutes of standing.
- Consider getting a stand-up desk.
- Go to the kitchen to get a drink of water.
- Step outside and walk around the building.
- Take the stairs up and down a few flights.
- Walk to your colleague’s office, instead of sending an email.
- In nice weather, take your meetings outside and get some fresh air.
Stretches And Exercises To Do At Your Desk
- Stand tall, circle your arms up and take in a deep, cleansing breath.
- With feet hip-width apart, gently tilt your neck side to side, 2 times.
- Bend your knees in a half squat above your chair, hold, and straighten. Repeat 6 times.
- Returning to a seated position, hold onto the side of your chair, twist to the left, looking over your shoulder and hold for a count of 3. Repeat on the right side.
- Standing wall lunge using your desk or a wall for support. Hold for 3 counts and repeat each leg twice.
- Alternating standing knee raises, swinging your arms and repeat 10 times each leg.
- Marching on the spot, perform alternating arm raises, holding for a count of 3 each side. Repeat 5 times.
- Keep the feet moving, circle the arms and finish with 3 deep breaths.
- Gently step touch side to side until your heart rate returns to normal.
The important thing to remember, is to sit less and move more. The longer you sit, the higher your chances of developing adverse health conditions like heart disease.
- JAMA. 2019;321(16):1587-1597. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.3636
- Ann Intern Med. 2015;162(2):123-132. DOI: 10.7326/M14-1651
- Harvard Health Medical: Too much sitting linked to heart disease.
- World Health Organization: Physical Activity
- World Health Organization: Physical Inactivity: a global public health problem.
- Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2014 Feb 5. doi: 10.1186/1479-5868-11-13
- Blog Contributor