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The 5 Health Hazards of Sitting

Last updated: March 12, 2018
Sitting Woman Reading a Book

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How much time would you estimate you spend sitting a day?

Between commuting, working, time spent in front of the television and more, when you take a moment to count up your sitting time, you may be surprised at the number you come up with.

If you’re the average person, you (according to a study) spend a whopping 12 hours a day sitting.

Let that sink in for a minute.

The average person spends half the day sitting.

While that probably makes you feel as if you’re wasting a lot of your time, what’s even worse are the negative health effects that result from sitting that much.

Today we are going to share with the risks you pose yourself by spending too much time sitting, as well as offer some ways to help you get moving.

The High Risks of a Sedentary Life

With as much sitting as our modern day society partakes in, it should be no surprise that our bodies are suffering as a result.

In fact, the term “sitting disease” has recently popped up and is considered among the top unanticipated health threats of today. Sitting disease can come in the form of issues such as metabolic syndrome, or a variety of other negative effects that result from spending too much time sitting.

Here are some of the top reasons why sitting too much can seriously damage your health.

1. You burn fewer calories while sitting.

Obviously a trip to the gym or a yoga class burns calories. But you’d be surprised at how many calories you burn doing even the simplest of things such as standing and walking.

This type of low-level energy-burning is called NEAT — non-exercise activity thermogenesis. Ensuring you keep this level of energy high is one of the best ways you can battle weight gain.

Low-energy activities such as sitting or lying down do not require much energy, and thus are putting limitations on the number of calories you burn every day via NEAT.

2. More time sitting means higher chances of weight gain.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise — the more time you spend sitting, the less calories you burn, and thus, the higher your chances are of gaining weight.

Not only does sitting for long periods of time lead to weight gain, it can lead to severe weight gain, in the form of obesity. The more sedentary your lifestyle is, the greater your chances are of become obese.

A study found that people who are obese spend an additional 2 hours sitting each day than your average person. That means, that someone who is obese spends at least 14 hours a day sitting.

3. Long periods of sitting put you at risk for disease.

The more time you spend sitting, the higher your chances are of developing one of the 30 chronic diseases that are related to a sedentary lifestyle.

The biggest diseases you’re at risk for when you spend too much of your life sitting are type 2 diabetes and heart disease. In fact, those leading sedentary lives are at a 112% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and 147% higher risk of developing heart disease.

People who walk less than 1,500 steps a day and sit for extended periods of time without adjusting their caloric intake are much more likely to become insulin resistant.

In other words, the more inactive you are, the higher your chances of developing a resistance to insulin, and thus, likely type 2 diabetes.

4. Sitting too much leads to early death.

Though quite morbid, this is an unavoidable topic.

Quite a bit of research has been done on the subject, and it has been determined by some that the majority of people leading sedentary lives were putting themselves at a 22-49% higher risk of early death.

5. One hour of exercise does not reverse all the sitting time.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could spend one hour at the gym or running outside to reverse the negative effects of sitting all day?

Unfortunately, it does not work that way.

Regardless of your daily exercise habit, sitting for long periods of time will lead to some health problems.

While those health problems obviously increase when you’re not exercising at all, don’t think that your daily yoga classes will offset the hazards of your 11 hours of sitting for the day.

How to Lead a More Active Life

Now that you’ve seen the terrifying effects a sedentary lifestyle can have on your body, your health, and your overall life, chances are good you’re looking for a way to incorporate some more movement in your day.

Well, we’ve got one simple way for you to get on your feet more often, and lower your risk of developing all the problems we mentioned above.

It doesn’t require you spending hours at the gym, or developing a crazy at-home workout routine. The greatest way that you can combat the negative effects of a 12-hour sitting day is easy: simply stand every 30 minutes.

Why Standing Every 30 Minutes Is Key

Standing is the number one way you can counteract the negative effects of sitting too much.

Which is great news because, let’s be honest, many people who are older aren’t going to be running around all day, and many younger people are forced to spend the day in an 8-5 office job.

So what can you do if you’re one of the above people who doesn’t have the ability to workout multiple times during the day?

Simply stand up and walk around every 30 minutes. Set an alarm on your phone to help remind you.

See if you can alternate between sitting and standing. Spend 30 minutes sitting, then 30 minutes standing. The positive effects this will have on your health are far greater than you could ever imagine.

Here are some of the benefits you’ll stand to gain from simply standing up:

  1. Metabolism Boost. Standing helps to rev up your metabolism as well as tone your muscles.
  2. Increased Productivity. Standing helps to increase your energy, which can in turn improve your mood and make your more productive.
  3. Decreased health risks. Standing will lower the risks of developing a variety of diseases, as well as lower the risk of early death.

As you can see, sitting too much can wreak some serious havoc on your health. With as easy as it is to combat the risks of sitting by simply standing, there’s no reason you can’t get moving, and get on improving your health today.

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