Does Sitting Harm Your Health?

Recent studies show that sitting for most of the day can cause an early death.

For most of us, that is not good news.  We sit in the car on the way to work. We sit behind a desk much of the day. We’re back in the car on the ride home. Then we veg out on the sofa and watch TV.

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Turn off those TVs and computers!

People who watch over 3 hours of TV daily are two times more likely to die in the next few years than those who watch little TV. Turn those TVs off and take a walk!

Another study showed that people who watch TV, work on a computer, or play video games for more than 4 hours per day increase their risk of heart attack and stroke by 113%! They also have a 50% increased risk of death from any other cause when compared to those who spend than 2 hours per day on those activities.

How much sitting is too much?Sitting

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Prolonged sitting is a relatively recent trend. Years ago, people got up at dawn, labored most of the day, then after a brief sitting spell, they went to bed.

Today the average person sits for 8 – 15 hours per day. We instinctively know it is not good for us. We rush to the gym to get exercise so that we don’t get the myriad of diseases plaguing our society – obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure or heart attacks.

But now studies show that even if you go to the gym or have regular exercise, it won’t offset the damage done by sitting too much.

What are the risks of sitting too much?

In a recent Canadian study, researchers found that people who sat for long periods of time risked dying sooner from various causes.  Sitting was not associated with one particular disease.

Even when people exercised for an hour per day, those who spent most of their day sitting had a greater incidence of death from all causes.

Sitting disease is a contributor to the widespread health problems facing us today, including heart disease, obesity, cancer, diabetes, depression, etc. according to James Levine, M.D., Ph.D. at the Mayo Clinic. “The term “Sitting Disease” has been coined by the scientific community and is commonly used when referring to metabolic syndrome and the ill-effects of an overly sedentary lifestyle.“JustStandInfoGraphic

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In a review of 47 studies that looked 830,000 health related deaths, researchers examined the association between sitting and death. They found that people who are sedentary were 24% more likely to die during the 1-16 year study period than those who were not.

These same researchers found that prolonged sitting caused a 17% to 18% increase in death from cancer and cardiovascular disease. They also found a 13% to 14% increase in cancer and heart disease, and a whopping 91% increase in Type 2 diabetes.

Why would sitting cause heart disease?

When you sit for long periods of time, you are not using your muscles, so you burn less fat and your blood circulation slows down.  This is not good because fatty acids build up and can clog the heart. According to Martha Grogan, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic, the risk of cardiovascular disease from a sedentary lifestyle poses just as much of a risk as smoking.

Circulatory problems in the legs also develop. The slower blood flow causes blood to pool in the legs, leading to swollen ankles and even blood clots.

How could sitting cause Type 2 diabetes?

Your pancreas makes insulin, which is a hormone secreted into the bloodstream to adjust your blood sugar level. If you are sitting, your muscles don’t respond easily to insulin, so the pancreas will make more insulin.  This becomes a vicious cycle, leading to Type 2 diabetes.

Is there a link between sitting and cancer?

Sitting has been associated with several forms of cancer. It is known that sugar feeds cancer Since your pancreas is working overtime making insulin, and if you are sitting it doesn’t use it properly, then blood sugar levels build up in the body. This could be the culprit.

It is known that oxygen kills cancer.  When you are sitting, you are not getting much oxygen into your bloodstream. So cancer cells can easily multiply.


While sitting causes lots of other problems, such as muscle degeneration and osteoporosis, the deadliness of sitting has been proven. People are opting for standing desks, treadmill desks, and are finding other ways of avoiding prolonged sitting at work.

Take a walk at lunch, stand while talking on the phone, do something that changes your position frequently throughout the day.

At home, get up during the commercials and walk to the next room.  A study done at the University of Utah found that if you get up once every hour and walk for two minutes you can increase your lifespan by over 30%.

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