Whether it’s because you’re in school or work an office job, we all tend to sit for hours at a time. Modern society has been built to sit, we spend more time off our feet than generations before. Although we experience less leg pain, recent studies have shown that sitting is doing more harm than good.
Over half of an average person’s daily life is spent driving, working, watching our favourite shows, etc… and this all involves sitting. While it isn’t inherently harmful, sitting too much can be bad if we do too much (similar to eating). So what are the risks?
Sitting Lowers The Amount of Calories Used Up
Everyday activities such as standing, walking, and fidgeting burns calories. But while they burn calories, the amount is small. And the fewer calories used up, the more likely you are to gain weight. This can lead to obesity. Research shows that obese people on average sit two more hours than lean people.
Sitting is Linked to Early Death
Observational data collected from over a million people shows that the more time you spend sitting, the more likely you are to die early. There’s about a 22-49% greater chance of early death.
Sitting is Linked to Disease
There are over 30 chronic diseases and conditions that can be developed due to sitting for prolonged periods. This includes a 112% increase of risk for type 2 diabetes, and a 147% increase of risk for heart disease. Sitting for a long time without reducing calorie intake can cause a dramatic increase in insulin resistance (which increases risk for type 2 diabetes).
Sitting Cannot Completely Eliminate the Risk
One hour of intense exercise cannot counterbalance the rest of the day spent on a chair. Around 47 studies have found that prolonged sitting is strongly linked to negative health outcomes, regardless of exercise. Regular, consistent exercise is recommended but it cannot offset the health risks completely, though it can lower the negative effects.
Due to all the negative side effects from a life of sitting, it is important to try to cut out sedentary time as much as possible. Invest in a standing desk for your home, stand on public transportation, take the stairs, use an ergonomic chair, exercise, and break up sitting time to allow for muscle engagement. Experts say to take a movement break every half an hour to lower risks.
If you are feeling discomfort or concerned about your physical health, consider talking to a physiotherapist.