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Is Sitting All Day Bad For You?

Also Known As: sitting down for too long



Short answer

The risks of sitting all day are about the same as those shared by smokers. It is strongly recommended not to sit for extended periods of time and if you do, briefly stand up and walk around every 20-30 minutes.



Long answer

Sitting all day may be just as bad for you as getting up to have a cigarette - possibly even worse. The primary reason this is the case is that prolonged sitting (8-12 hours per day) decreases metabolism. Many of the processes in metabolic function require movement - even if that just involves standing up. When you sit all day, your metabolism does not have a chance to work properly and this can lead to a host of health risks, including a 90% risk increase for type-2 diabetes and a 147% increased risk for cardiovascular disease. According to one cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic, "for people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking."

Yet another comparison to smoking - according to a 2015 study done in Dallas of over 2,000 adults, sitting all day increases lung cancer by 54%. The same study found a 66% increase in uterine cancer and a 30% increase in colon cancer. These increases in cancer risk are thought to be caused by hormone alteration, metabolic dysfunction, leptin dysfunction, and inflammation that come as a result of prolonged sitting.

Other health risks associated with sitting all day include an increased risk for all forms of diabetes, dementia, and depression or anxiety. People who sit for long periods of time per day also run a significant risk of developing hyperglycemia and hypertension. Sitting all day also increases lethargy and lowers productivity. Unfortunately, not even exercise can eliminate the risks from sitting too long. There is good news, though - illnesses brought on by too much sitting are easily preventable through even the simple act of standing. It's recommended to spend at least two minutes out of every twenty getting up and walking around (or even just standing and stretching). Another thing you can do is find a way of sitting less (such as using a standing desk).

Possible short-term side effects

  • lethargy
  • less productivity
  • hormone alteration
  • inflammation

Possible long-term side effects

  • hypertension
  • diabetes
  • heart attack
  • cardiovascular disease
  • cancer
  • hyperglycemia
  • dementia
  • depression / anxiety

Big is sitting all day bad for you 2

Healthier alternatives

  • standing up
  • walking around
  • staying active

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Written by Jeff Volling | 12-28-2015

Written by Jeff Volling
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