From our car to the chair at work and then to the couch at home, we are spending more time sitting down than we ever have historically, and researchers say it’s wreaking havoc on our bodies. Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative has been studying the adverse effects of our increasingly sedentary lifestyles for years and he has this to say: “Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death”!
Researchers have found, and continue to find, evidence that prolonged sitting increases the risk of developing several serious illnesses.
For instance, a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found that frequent sitters have a greater risk of developing heart disease. Those who sat for more than six hours a day died earlier from heart disease than those who sat for less than 3 hours a day.
A study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute showed that sitting for long periods of time puts us at an increased risk for colon, endometrial and, possibly, lung cancer. The study also found that even physically active people who sit all day have a higher risk of developing cancer, and as the sitting time increases, the risk increases.
Most shocking though, studies have repeatedly shown the effects of long-term sitting are not reversible through exercise. The benefits of regular exercise are widely known, but even physically active people, whose morning exercise regimens are typically followed by extended periods of sitting time, can’t exercise their way out of their desk-jockey work day. The risks of sitting are independent of our overall physical activity levels. If we sit down for long periods, we are increasing our risk for chronic disease.
The only way to minimize the risk is to stop sitting so much! Walk to work, stand on the bus, take frequent standing or walking breaks, use a stand-up desk – somehow find ways to decrease your time sitting! Re-examine the way you approach your day to day tasks/demands. Do you HAVE to sit as often or for as long?
Sue Underhill is a Registered Physiotherapist who tries not to sit down at Maximum Physiotherapy. Call for advice or questions about sitting, posture or anything that causes discomfort!