The Negative Health Effects Of Too Much Sitting

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The Negative Health Effects Of Too Much Sitting
The Negative Health Effects Of Too Much Sitting. Graphic ©

Modern lifestyle has greatly increased the amount of sitting that people do every day. Many people spend most of their waking lives sitting! This is not how we evolved; as hunter-gatherers, we were on our feet most of the time. Here is a list of some of the surprising health consequences that have been associated with too much sitting by scientific studies:

Gain Weight: If you sit for long hours watching TV or any other activity that involves sitting, you are more like to be obese and overweight as you do not spend calories doing some physical work or exercise.

Anxiety: By engaging in screen-based activities, you are more likely to have less sleep that can make you depressed and anxious. You also detach from friends while sitting at home that can lead to social anxiety. [1]

Cardiovascular Risks: Sitting too much or sedentary behavior has been associated with cardiovascular problems. A review has linked a lack of physical activity and increased sitting time with cardiovascular mortality risk. [2]

Premature Death: The chances of premature death increases in individuals who spend a lot of time sitting without any exercise. A study recommends workstation alternatives for people sitting too much in offices to avoid premature deaths [3] – for example standing desks and various forms of ‘desk exercisers’ – for example a treadmill or under-desk pedalling exerciser.

Diabetes Risk: Most people don’t realize that sitting can change the way the body reacts to insulin, the hormone which is responsible to burn sugar. During sitting, you also burn fewer calories. Epidemiological data suggests that too much sitting can increase the risk of diabetes. [4]

Deep Vein Thrombosis: This is a blood clot that occurs in a vein, typically in a leg vein. This is a potentially very dangerous condition as the blood clot can move to the lungs, leading to pulmonary embolism. Thrombosis has been associated with long periods with little movement – for example long travel times, being confined to bed – and of course long periods of sitting. Prevention tips for avoiding DVT include maintaining a healthy weight, staying hydrated, taking regular walks and getting up to move around every hour or so.

Chronic Disease Risk: Sitting too much has been associated overall with an increased risk for multiple chronic diseases including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, breast , and colon cancer. [5]

Learn More:

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[1] Dunstan, D.W., et al., Too much sitting–a health hazard. Diabetes research and clinical practice, 2012. 97(3): p. 368-376.

[2] Dunstan, D.W., A.A. Thorp, and G.N. Healy, Prolonged sitting: is it a distinct coronary heart disease risk factor? Current opinion in cardiology, 2011. 26(5): p. 412-419.

[3] Huysmans, M.A., et al., Is sitting too much bad for your health? Ergonomics in design, 2015. 23(3): p. 4-8.

[4] Dempsey, P.C., et al., Sitting less and moving more: improved glycaemic control for type 2 diabetes prevention and management. Current diabetes reports, 2016. 16(11): p. 114.

[5] Owen, N., A. Bauman, and W. Brown, Too much sitting: a novel and important predictor of chronic disease risk? British journal of sports medicine, 2009. 43(2): p. 81-83.

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