Sitting is Hazardous to Your Health
December 20, 2016
May 29, 2015
Is sitting too much harming your health? New research recently published in Annals of Internal Medicine shows that too much sedentary time – the time you spend sitting or reclining during the day – puts your health at risk.
Sedentary time includes working at a computer, watching television, riding in a car or bus, and doing other activities while you’re sitting down. Studies show that sedentary time is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and early death from all causes, even for people who spend time exercising regularly.
In the modern world, many adults sit at desks all day to do their jobs, and the average American spends more than 2 hours each day watching television. As an experiment, try to track how much time you spend sitting over a period of 3 days. You may be surprised!
What You Can Do
When you have to sit for long periods of time, aim to take a short activity break every hour. Even a few minutes of light activity every hour will help prevent the negative health effects of sitting too much. Try the tips below to add more movement to your day at work or at home.
- Take a 5- to 10-minute walk or do simple exercises in your office during your breaks.
- Stand up while you talk on the phone.
- Get up to talk to a co-worker instead of calling or emailing.
- Have walk-and-talk or standing meetings.
- Wear a pedometer and aim to add 200 extra steps each day until you reach 10,000.
- While you wait for dinner to finish cooking, do squats, lunges, or standing push-ups against the wall.
- Do jumping jacks or other exercises during the commercial breaks of your favorite TV show.
- Take a walk outside after dinner.
- Play active games with your kids or use toys like hula hoops to encourage activity.
The negative health consequences of sedentary time are less severe for people who exercise regularly than for people who do not exercise. In other words, even if you have a desk job that requires you to sit for most of the day, it’s still important to aim for 150 minutes of traditional exercise each week for good health.
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Brenda Buescher, MPH
Brenda Buescher, MPH, is a Health Promotion Specialist in Community Health and Wellness. Brenda coordinates community initiatives to promote healthy eating and physical activity. She holds a master’s degree in health behavior from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.