Can Too Much Sitting Lead to an Early Death?

According to a recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the answer could be yes. The more hours the study participants spent sitting at work, driving, lying on the couch, or engaged in other leisurely pursuits, the greater the odds they had of dying from causes such as heart disease and cancer. In fact, it was found that people who sit for long periods were 24% more likely to die from health problems. Another key finding was that even people who exercised regularly risked shortening their lifespan if they spent most of the day sitting.

Part of the problem is that the human body was designed by evolution to be active, not sedentary. Nowadays, however, many of us make our living working in offices where we are typically sitting most of the time. The result of all this inactivity is often weight gain and an increased risk of chronic health problems. There is some hope for those of us who aren’t too active. One finding in the study is that people who don’t exercise can be healthier even if all they do is reduce the amount of time they sit each day. And that those who do exercise can be healthier by decreasing the time that they spend sitting. There’s no doubt that an active lifestyle is just healthier for us overall.

So how can you be more active at work and at home each day? Remember that standing is much like walking. It increases our energy, burns extra calories, tones muscles, improves posture, increases our body’s blood flow and helps ramp up our metabolism. So consider getting one of those standing desks for your office. Just getting up and walking around every 30 minutes or so is also a good idea.

Here are some more tips on how to be more active during an average work day:

  • Instead of sending an email, get up and actually talk in person to a coworker
  • Set an alarm on your computer to go off at specific times for a quick walk around the office
  • Take the stairs once each day instead of the elevator
  • Plan a fun activity after work a couple of nights a week. For instance, bowling or mini-golf, or swimming or basketball at the “Y.”

Remember that good health and exercise go hand-in-hand. Chances are that the more time you can find to exercise, the healthier you’ll be.

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