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Fitness & Wellness

Could Sitting All Day Be Slowly Killing You?

If you’re like many people, your job involves sitting all day and that could be slowly killing you. Studies show that you need to take a movement break at least once every thirty minutes to be at your fittest and avoid serious conditions that shorten your life. In other words, the more you sit, the bigger the potential for death or a life threatening condition.

People average sit more than previously considered.

The REGARD—Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke—study found the average person actually sits more than previously thought. One of the goals of the study was to find out why Blacks in the southern US tend to have a greater risk for stroke than their white counterparts. In order to do it, Keith Diaz, lead author of the study tracked 7,985 black and white participants that were 45 or older for four years. Rather than using self-reporting, which had been used in most studies, the team used technology, a hip-mounted accelerometers. The results showed that in a 16 hour day, the subjects of the study averaged 12.3 hours of sedentary behavior, considerably higher than the previously reported findings of ten hours.

The more the participants sat, the higher the potential for death.

The more participants sat, the more their potential for earlier death. For instance, people who sat 11 hours a day had half the risk of death when compared to those who sat 13 hours every day. They broke the information down even further to find that the length of time mattered as much as the amount of hours of setting. If a person sat 11 hours, but got up every 30 minutes and moved, the potential for death lowered by 55%. Those who sat 90 minutes or longer, had twice as high of a risk for death than those that sat for less than 90-minutes.

Just standing isn’t the answer either.

The study showed you needed to move, so standing desk or not, walk to the bathroom, get a cup of coffee or simply walk to the copy machine to make the copies you need. Planning your day so you can move every half hour should be a top priority. “Sitting is the new smoking,” but without the tax or the smell. The first part of that phrase came from Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic at Arizona State University. Chronic sitting increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, colon cancer and kidney disease. It also boosts the potential for obesity, America’s leading cause of preventable deaths.

  • While a standing desk can bring benefits in other ways, if you’re not moving, the benefits are limited. Standing in the same position without moving for 60-90 minutes is just as bad as sitting in the same position for that length of time—but you do burn a few more calories. .
  • Don’t expect your workout at the gym to offset the risk of sitting. You’d have to do a minimum of an hour of intense exercise just to balance out the 6 to 7 hours of sitting you do every day. Note the word, intense, which is not recommended every day.
  • Find ways to be more active. Take the stairs, rather than the elevator. If you work in an office in an upper floor that’s that’s too tall to conquer (Seriously, I wouldn’t expect anyone to hike up 60 floors every day), take the elevator up part of the way and walk the rest.
  • Don’t use email or phone to talk to someone in your office. Get up and go to their desk as part of your break. If you’re on the cell phone, walk around the office while talking. Pacing counts!

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