How harmful is too much sitting?
Sitting for long periods of time has been linked to a number of health concerns, including obesity, heart disease and even cancer. Don't believe it? Stand up and read on.
It’s time to step away from the computer and read this: According to one study, people who spend more than four hours a day in front of a screen have a higher risk of early death in general and a higher risk of events related to heart disease, such as chest pain or heart attack.
But sitting in front of the TV isn't the only concern. Any extended sitting — such as behind a desk at work or behind the wheel — can be harmful. What's more, even fitting in some moderate or vigorous activity doesn't seem to significantly offset the risk of sitting most of the time.
The solution? Sit less and move more overall. You might start by simply standing rather than sitting whenever you have the chance.
- Stand while talking on the phone or eating lunch.
If you work at a desk for long periods of time, try a standing desk — or improvise with a high table or counter.
Better yet, think about ways to walk while you work:
- Walk laps with your colleagues rather than gathering in a conference room for meetings.
- Position your work surface above a treadmill — with a computer screen and keyboard on a stand or a specialized treadmill-ready vertical desk — so that you can be in motion throughout the day.
The impact of movement — even leisurely movement — can be profound. For starters, you'll burn more calories. This can lead to weight loss and increased energy.
Plus, the muscle activity needed for standing and other movement seems to trigger important reactions related to the breakdown of fats and sugars within the body. When you sit, these responses stall — and your health risks increase. When you're standing or actively moving, you kick the processes back into action.
© 2017 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. All rights reserved.