Do you have a job where you sit all day? Are you like most American’s and spend most of your day in sedentary positions? Are you aware of the risks that sitting has on your health? A meta-analysis that sums up the risks pretty well states, “Sedentary time is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular and all-cause mortality; the strength of the association is most consistent for diabetes.” (http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00125-012-2677-z)
In another recent meta- analysis, they found that “prolonged TV viewing and time spent in other sedentary pursuits is associated with increased risks of colon and endometrial cancer. Each 2-hour per day increase in sedentary time was related to a statistically significant 8% increase in colon cancer risk and 10% increase in endometrial cancer risk. We also found a positive relation between high vs low sedentary behavior and lung cancer.” (http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/106/7/dju098.full).
In another study of 92,000 women over a period of 12 years, they found that those who spent 11 hours or more sitting a day had a 12% increase in dying from any condition, a 27% increase in deaths from heart disease and a 21% rise in dying from cancer compared with those who sat for four or less hours. (http://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(13)00594-1/abstract).
Are you starting to get the point that sitting is dangerous to your health? As technology has advanced and jobs have changed, we now sit more as a work force than we ever have in history. In fact we now, on average, sit 9.3 hours a day which is more than the 7.7 hours the average person sleeps. Is it any wonder that 1 in 3 American’s are obese? Our bodies were designed for movement, not to be sedentary. If you sit for 8 hours a day at your job, go home and sit at the dinner table and then sit on the couch and watch TV until you go to bed and do it all over again, you’re placing a major risk on your health. Sitting/being sedentary poses a similar type of health risk as smoking does to your health.
Let’s take a look at what happens in the body when you sit. Immediately, calorie burning drops to 1 per minute and enzymes that help to break down fat in the body drop by 90%! Immediately, the muscles in your lower body stop sending electrical signals back and forth to the brain and your metabolism drops. After approximately 2 hours, your “good cholesterol” drops by 20%! While researchers are still trying to find the direct link between some of these disease states and being sedentary, I would highly recommend not becoming a statistic!
If you sit all day at your job, going to the gym alone will not reverse the damage that you do by sitting all day. So what can you do if you have a job that requires you to sit all day long? If you can, I highly recommend getting an adjustable desk that allows you to work while standing. If that’s not an option, you need to take breaks from sitting throughout the workday. You can do this by taking the long way to the bathroom, using the stairs instead of the elevator or by simply standing up and moving! Try to conduct meetings while standing or walking. If you have time on your lunch, go for a walk. And most of all, when you come home, you need to be active and move and not take up the temptation to sit down and watch TV all night. In the same way that you can make a smart health decision and choose not to smoke, you can choose not to sit and be sedentary all day!
-Dr. Brian Damhoff