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Sitting your life away: sedentary habits shorten lifespan

by Margery Gass | Oct 26, 2012
Hope you’re not sitting down for this one. Much recent research has explored the harms of too much sitting, at work or at home watching television. Why exactly is it harmful?

When you’re seated, electrical activity in your muscles slows down — especially in the powerful muscles of the legs and lower body. This causes your body’s calorie-burning rate to drop to about one per minute. That’s just a third of the rate you’d reach while walking around.  After just a day, inactivity lowers insulin effectiveness and increases your risk of Type 2 diabetes and obesity. One study of overall sitting time in US adults found that women who sat for more than 6 hours a day had a 40% higher death rate. Another study of television viewing time in Australia concluded that for each additional hour of television a person sat and watched per day their risk of dying rose by 11%. Prolonged sitting was also found to double the risk of diabetes and heart disease — a risk that wasn’t eliminated by regular exercise. Authors of the diabetes study said that the average American adult spends 50% to 70% of their day sitting.

How to fix this? If you have a desk job, get up and take a short, brisk walk every hour. Instead of always emailing, walk around your office to talk to coworkers. Take the stairs and use a restroom on a different floor. If you’re willing to make an investment, there are standing desks for sale (or just pile up books on your desk for a do-it-yourself fix) and even treadmill desks. After work, park a little farther from the store on those errands and enjoy the extra exercise. Rise, shine and start moving!

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