If you’re sitting down while you read this, it’s probably a good thing. Because what you’re about to read will shock you.
The average American spends an average of 9.3 hours sitting. If you work at a desk, it’s more. If you have to drive any distance to your job it’s more. And if you look at the big one – watching TV – for even an average amount, it’s more yet. It would not be surprising to anyone if the sitting time for most people could be around 12 hours. That’s half the day, and doesn’t include seven or eight hours of sleep.
It’s also not a surprise that sitting greatly increases your chances of being obese. But what is surprising is that sitting alone will literally take years off your life. And, that death could be brutal.
“Sitting disease” can kill you. Maybe sooner rather than later.
According to a 2012 Australian study of 200,000 people, the most significant finding was that people who sat for more than 11 hours daily had a 40% greater risk of dying in the next three years than people who sat for less than four hours daily. An American study of the same year reported that those who’ve minimized their sitting habit have boosted their life expectancy by two years.
It gets worse. The results of 47 different studies found that excessive sitting increases the possibility of getting Type 2 diabetes by 91%, an increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 18%, and a 17% increase in the possibility of dying from certain types of cancer.
Another detrimental effect of sitting too much is becoming overweight or obese. A 2009 study found that an overweight person spent two and a half sedentary hours more than a thin person. (So reread the paragraph above and take it even more seriously than someone who isn’t overweight.) Just standing alone burns 20 to 50 more calories per hour than sitting. And that’s doing nothing but standing.
As an aside, the health risks of sitting all the day aren’t confined to the physical aspects. Your mental health is also at risk when you are sitting too much. According to another Australian study, women who sat for more than seven hours a day had a 47% greater chance of becoming depressed than women who sat for less than four hours a day.
Previously it was considered that the issue was sitting too much during leisure time rather than during work. But an American study states that people spend more sedentary hours during work than on their days off. So, sitting disease isn’t just a concern for the one who’s spending lazy time in front of the television; one who’s spending busy time sitting in front of his desk isn’t safe either.
So to start, the question would most probably be how to avoid sitting too much during office hours. One solution is to use a treadmill desk or a standing desk. Hold meetings standing up.
Another thing that can be done to shrink the harmful effects of sitting too much is performing non-exercise activity thermo genesis (otherwise known as NEAT), i.e. stretching, turning and bending for a period of ten minutes in every single hour at work or at home. Communicate face to face with co-workers instead of sending them emails or on the phone if possible.
At home, if you have to watch TV, stand and do it, don’t sit. Stand while you talk on the phone. Spend time at home doing household chores, or making household improvements rather than holding a remote control.
It’s funny how sometimes you need only a small step to do a lot for your health. In this case, it is not even a whole step. Just stand up straight!