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.