A report published in Scientific American in 2014 states that the average American sits for 13 hours a day. We sit on the way to and from work or school, we sit at work, and we sit when we get home. Even the healthiest people normally exercise for less than one hour per day, and spend most of the rest of their day sitting.
A 2010 study published in Exercise Sport Scientific Review analysed the dramatic reduction in physical activity among modern humans. The study noted that modern conveniences have led to prolonged sitting, and revealed that even those who exercise can still suffer health consequences from sitting too much.
Just how dangerous is too much sitting? Find out below.
The health dangers of sitting
The 2010 study followed the health of study participants for 10 years. The researchers found that participants were likely to suffer health consequences from prolonged periods of sitting whether they exercised regularly or not. Although, participants in the study who sat for long periods and did not exercise had the biggest health risks.
The study authors found that individuals who sit for prolonged periods have the following health risks:
- 46 percent increased risk of all-cause mortality
- 80 percent increased risk of cardiovascular disease mortality
- Elevated levels of insulin resistance
- Higher blood pressure
- Sluggish metabolism
- Greater waist circumference
- Poor core strength
Sitting at a desk all day still carries health risks regardless of whether a person exercises regularly or not. Prior to recent studies on the risks of prolonged sitting, it was thought that exercising once a day, or a few times a week, was enough to reduce the premature mortality risk associated with an inactive lifestyle. However, this study and other recent studies indicate that far more movement spread throughout the day is necessary to maintain ideal health.
How to stay healthy in a traditional office environment
Most of us cannot change our work environment. Most Americans today have jobs that are somewhat to completely sedentary. Even retail and factory jobs often involve little movement beyond standing or minimal walking. How can the modern American stay healthy and reduce the premature mortality risks of prolonged sitting?
Use these tips to increase your movement throughout the day:
- Stand or walk during meetings.
- Exchange your regular sitting desk for a treadmill desk or standing desk.
- Perform a few quick exercises during breaks at work or between television episodes at home.
- Commit to watching less than two hours of TV per day.
- Don’t spend more than 30 minutes at a time sitting without getting up and walking around for five minutes.
- Visit coworkers to discuss work with them, rather than sending emails.
- Fidget when sitting by bouncing a knee, tapping your foot or moving in other small ways.
- Stand while reading or watching TV.
- Sit on the floor rather than in chairs — this improves core strength.
It takes a little adjustment to our current mindset, but it is possible to reverse the idea that we need to sit while engaging in every activity. Many of us may get tired after standing for more than 20 minutes, but gradually increasing standing time will help to improve strength. By moving more and sitting less, you will improve your health, maintain a healthy weight and reduce your overall mortality risk drastically. Do what you can to move throughout the day, and you will become a much healthier person.
—The Alternative Daily