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Are You Killing Yourself by Sitting?

Are You Killing Yourself by Sitting?

You can skip this article if you rarely engage in the following activities, or do so only for a few minutes of the day: TV viewing, video game playing, computer use (collective termed “screen time”), driving automobiles, and reading.

But if, for work or for entertainment, you spend a hefty part of your day sitting in one place, this article is essential reading. It could even save your life.

These days, it is easy to sit for up to eight hours a day. Almost everything we have to or love to do requires us to sit in one place. Accounting, writing, messaging, speaking on the phone, watching our favorite show, the commute to work…sure, we take the occasional break, but that’s mostly for the loo or a drink or water — simply not enough.

A sedentary lifestyle makes you a sitting duck for disease, and possibly early death.

A recent study of 17,000 Canadian adults conclusively proves the connection between sitting long hours and mortality. What’s worse, the dangers of sitting long hours are not seen to diminish even among those who exercise, which was demonstrated by an Australian study of more than 200,000 adults. Even if you spend 30 regular minutes a day pounding the treadmill or taking a brisk walk, you are at a high risk of developing serious health issues. That’s because 30 minutes are a very small fraction of your entire day.

Sitting for long hours, day after strenuous day, can lead to a clot in the leg. It’s called a pulmonary embolism. If a sedentary person also suffers from obesity, diabetes and circulatory problems, the likelihood of an embolism is much greater. But perhaps more significantly, it works the other way around, too: sitting for long hours can increase your risk of developing a cluster of health problems. Think obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, fatty deposits around the middle…

Spend some time on www.sedentarybehaviour.org, the website of the Sedentary Behavior Research Network. It is a gold mine of information for those who are yet to confront the chilling dangers of sitting too many hours in a day.

Meanwhile, make sure you take short, frequent light-intensity walking breaks—they can dramatically reduce your risk of developing health problems caused by lack of activity. If you get too absorbed while working to remember getting up, simply set up a regular alarm. Let it go off every 30 minutes; your cue to taking a 5-minute walk.

Related:
Sit No More! 5 Ways to Become More Active

Read more: General Health, Health, Life, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Shubhra Krishan

Writer, editor and journalist Shubhra Krishan is the author of Essential Ayurveda: What it is and what it can do for you (New World Library, 2003), Radiant Body, Restful Mind: A Woman's book of comfort (New World Library, 2004), and The 9 to 5 Yogi: How to feel like a sage while working like a dog (Hay House India, 2011).

100 comments

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9:17AM PDT on Sep 22, 2013

I used to be a sitter - all my life. But this year I thought I should do something about it so I took up zumba. Wow! The difference those two classes a week have made. These days I can run for a bus without puffing, something I've never done in my life before (I'm 67 now) and next year I'm going to walk the Camino Santiago de Compostella - all 1000 km of it, from Seville (the quieter, flatter route.)

1:21PM PDT on Aug 25, 2013

Thank you! Looks like a have a little tweeking to do even though I am 54 and in good health. I also will check out that web site you mentioned.

8:56AM PDT on Aug 25, 2013

Use it or loose it!

9:47AM PDT on Aug 19, 2013

thanks for the article.

7:33PM PDT on Aug 18, 2013

good reminder, thanks!

10:12AM PDT on Aug 17, 2013

Sitting through the day may increase your risk of heart disease and certain types of cancers. Sitting might be killing you as such a lifestyle makes you a sitting deck for disease, and possibly early death. Human body simply isn't built to sit all day at a desk or for hours vegging out on the couch. To avoid the health risks we need not just 30 minutes of daily exercise, but taking every opportunity to get up during the day.

9:21PM PDT on Aug 16, 2013

Nope.

9:44AM PDT on Aug 14, 2013

Here in Denmark employers are required BY LAW to provide their employees with adjustable desks (sit-stand desks). If the one is tired of sitting, he/she can transform their desk into a stand-desk. I utilize this option quite frequently :) And we are allowed to walk as much as we need, as long as all the work is completed, of course :D

2:06AM PDT on Aug 13, 2013

Thank you :)

2:23AM PDT on Aug 12, 2013

I'm guilty ..... It's difficult to take breaks if you are the type of person who focuses on what one is reading. I'm very much aware of the problem so jiggle my legs, do a little deep breathing and get up several times - but I know its not sufficient.

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