Is Sitting The New Smoking – Are You Sitting Yourself To Death?

No doubt you are aware of the implications of a sedentary lifestyle. According to the NHS and a study – involving almost 800,000 people – a sedentary individual has:

  • 112% increase in risk of diabetes
  • 147% increase in cardiovascular events
  • 90% increase in death caused by cardiovascular events
  • 49% increase in death from any cause

So are you sitting yourself to death?

The study was carried out by researchers from Loughborough University and the University of Leicester. The primary author is being funded for a PhD in the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, University of Leicester.

What If You Exercise 1-2 Hours A Day, Every Day

Exercising, 1-2 hours a day, you’d expect to be considered active and kept away from the health implications of being sedentary.

Not so fast. Exercising 1-2 hours in the morning and then sitting for 8 hours in front of the desk, another hour behind the wheel, then going to the cinema, theatre or having dinner, still keeps you in the same bucket, you are an active couch potato.

According to The Mirror, the average Brit now spends about 8.9 hours every day sitting down. I’d say more than that, 8 hours is just sitting at work.

Add another seven hours sleeping and most of us spend just one third of our time on our feet.

“Up until very recently, if you exercised for 60 minutes or more a day, you were considered physically active, case closed,” says Travis Saunders, a Ph.D. student and certified exercise physiologist at the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group at Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

“Now a consistent body of emerging research suggests it is entirely possible to meet current physical activity guidelines while still being incredibly sedentary, and that sitting increases your risk of death and disease, even if you are getting plenty of physical activity. It’s a bit like smoking. Smoking is bad for you even if you get lots of exercise. So is sitting too much.”

A study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity in 2012, researchers reported that people spent an average of 64 hours a week sitting, 28 hours standing, and 11 hours on light activates such as walking).

Study author Marc Hamilton, Ph.D., professor and director of the inactivity physiology department at Pennington Biomedical Research Center discovered that a key gene (called lipid phosphate phosphatase-1 or LPP1) that helps prevent blood clotting and inflammation to keep your cardiovascular system healthy is significantly suppressed when you sit for a few hours. “The shocker was that LPP1 was not impacted by exercise if the muscles were inactive most of the day,” . “Pretty scary to say that LPP1 is sensitive to sitting but resistant to exercise.”

What Can You Do

You were born to move. Hate to break it to you, but those joints in your body aren’t there to make you look pretty, they are there because your body needs to move.

Let me put it another way, your body is DESIGNED to move. Just like an architect designs doors to open, nature designed you to use your body daily.

So much pain, low back pain, shoulder pain, frozen shoulder, RSI, carpal tunnel syndrome, can be prevented in many cases, just by starting to move out bodies, and not just a couple of hours in the morning or evening.

We have a few solutions to this problem:

  1. Stand up, often and move more. Stretch, jumps around, go up and down the stairs. Dance with your work colleagues. Take breaks every hour or so.

    Yeah. I know you’re busy, believe me I know. Then again it’s up to you really. Do you want to feel stiff, achy and drowsy, plus having all those health implications at the back of your head and ultimately in your body?

    Or do you want to feel awesome in your body, have more energy throughout the day and live a healthy life? Sure, being active is not the only thing you should to do to be healthy, but it’s a start.

  1. Become an entrepreneur. Now here’s a good idea. Yes, we sit, but because our schedule involved networking, meetings and juggling family and business commitments we tend to move about quite a bit, and often.

    But wait, don’t quit your job just so you can be more active. That’s not the reason to become an entrepreneur, but it’s among them.

  1. Use a standing desk. Could work, just don’t go to the other extreme. Your core muscles will fatigue at some point and you lose posture.

Here’s a nice list of Ways Sitting is Shortening Your Life.