Did you know that only 20% of American adults get the recommended amount of physical activity—150 minutes of the moderately intense aerobic kind—each week? What’s worse is that even those who exercise regularly are still at risk for developing health issues associated with prolonged sitting. Unfortunately, some recent studies have found that even vigorous exercise won’t counteract the negative effects sitting for 5+ hours a day will have on your body. A likely explanation for this unsettling news is that “the metabolic effects of sitting are overwhelming any benefits that exercise might have.”
So just what exactly are the risks you face when you sit for prolonged periods of time? Humans weren’t created to be inactive for the majority of their days and the following are just a few of the dangerous side effects we’re all experiencing from it:
You Increase Your Risk of Developing Lethal Diseases
In a recent study, heavy sitters (no matter how much they exercised outside of their sitting hours) showed:
- a 90% higher risk of developing diabetes than those who sat less,
- an 18% higher chance of dying of heart disease or cancer;
- and 24% greater odds of dying from any cause.
(Oh, and that goes for all kinds of cancer too…)
A recent review of 43 studies analyzing daily activity and cancer rates found that people who reported sitting for more hours of the day had a 24% greater risk of developing colon cancer, a 32% higher risk of endometrial cancer and a 21% higher risk of lung cancer—regardless of how much they exercised.
You Burn Fewer Calories and Gain Weight
Studies have shown that standing burns twice as many calories per hour, about 140, as sitting. That means if you incorporate standing into your primarily sitting dominated day you can burn an extra 500 to 1,000 calories! On the flip side, being sedentary all day contributes to a lower Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), meaning your body is burning fewer calories per hour even at rest throughout the rest of your day.
Your Increase Your Risk of Hip, Knee, Shoulder and Back Injuries
Did you know that body tissue can die without stimulation? As mentioned above: people weren’t made to sit. We were made to be active, to move and to have varied mechanics. Unfortunately, the repetitive behavior and posture of sitting at a desk is causing our muscles and tissue to “degenerate” leading to a slew of injuries including the dreaded LBP (lower back pain) that afflicts 80% of Americans. One clever article put it this way:
“Chair-bound workers are essentially suffering from sub-clinical bed sores: muscles start to howl for the physical and neurological stimulation they need to survive and thrive, but we only move just enough and just in time to stop tissue from actually starting to become necrotic (dead).But they certainly get “sick,” especially in the shoulders, back and hips — which tend to remain relatively immobile even when we get up and go to the water cooler.”
It Inhibits Productivity
One experiment with high school kids found that standing in class instead of sitting improved their test scores by 20%. Another study has claimed a 46% boost in productivity. Sitting all day, especially in the same position, can inhibit creative thinking and induce sluggishness. Getting up for mini breaks or varying your day with standing helps increase blood flow to the brain and get your productive juices flowing.
Download our free ebook filled with stretches and exercises you can do right at your desk (discreetly!) to keep you active throughout your day! (obviousy don’t include until the ebook is ready)