There is a growing body of medical research that shows sitting for most of your day to be as detrimental to your health as smoking. While most of us are familiar with the fact that smoking is bad for you, it’s a surprise for many to be told that sitting is just as harmful.
The Research Says ‘Yes’
This subject has been studied for years and the results of the research are clear – sitting for long periods of time is linked to obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol levels, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
Even those assuring their primary care physician that they exercise regularly are at risk. Research shows that sitting for extended periods of time cause your body to shut down, slowing circulation, for example. When circulation slows, it affects blood sugar levels, increasing the risk of diabetes. In fact, for every two hours of sitting, some researchers found the risk of diabetes rising by seven percent. That’s a 56% higher risk for eight hours behind a desk.
A twelve year Canadian study found that the more time people spend sitting, the earlier they died – no matter how much they exercised. This effect was present regardless of age or weight. In an American study, it was found that a man sitting more than six hours a day has an 18% increased risk of dying from heart disease compared to one who sits three hours or less a day.
Suggestions To Counteract Sitting
There might not be a way to avoid sitting for hours at a time if your NYC job requires it. Add in sitting during commutes and relaxing in front of screens and those hours really add up. But there are things you can do to counteract the effects of this proven health hazard:
- Get up! — try to stand, walk around your workplace or around the block, take the stairs, etc. when possible during the day. Even movement in your chair will get your blood flowing faster.
- Try a standing desk – put your laptop on the counter and stand, raise your keyboard with a box of copier paper or see if you can switch to a standing desk and stool for resting your feet.
- Build movement into your day at regular intervals – it’s been shown that frequent short breaks to stretch and change positions will improve your health.
Face the facts about sitting – it was difficult for society to recognize the dangers of smoking and change the culture. Health care providers are facing a similar challenge with sitting.