Many of us spend most of the day sitting down. Your commute to work and likely sit in an office or cubicle during the day. Even if you drive a truck, you still spend a great deal of time sitting.
Find out why sitting for extended periods is bad for you:
Study #1. A 2012 analysis of 18 different studies concluded that those who sat for the longest periods were twice as likely to develop diseases such as diabetes and heart disease when compared to people who didn’t sit as much.
Study #2. An American Cancer Society study found that women who sit for more than 6 hours per day were 40% more likely to die during the study than those who sat for less than 3 hours per day.
- Men in the study were approximately 20% more likely to die under the same conditions.
Study #3. An inactivity researcher at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center did a study with rats that were forced to be inactive.
- It was discovered that the leg muscles of inactive rats immediately lost over 75% of their ability to remove lipoproteins from the blood.
- The same researcher conducted a study with 14 human volunteers who were young and physically fit. Within 24 hours of being sedentary, the volunteers had a 40% reduction in their insulin ability to process glucose.
The Benefits of Exercise
No one is disputing the benefits of exercise. More than 40 studies in the scientific literature have documented that the risk of cardiovascular disease can be cut by 30 to 50% when people partake in moderate exercise. Some of the benefits of exercise include:
- Weight loss
- Increased overall health and a reduction in numerous diseases and health issues
- Elevated mood
- Increased energy
- Better sleep
Exercise Alone Isn’t Enough to Undo the Damage Caused by Prolonged Sitting
Despite the benefits, exercise alone isn’t enough to counteract the damage done by excessive sitting. So, what can be done if exercising isn’t enough?
If you continue to exercise regularly, your body will thank and look better for it. If you're not exercising, start now. However, you can do some additional things to prevent the damage done by prolonged sitting.
Implement these suggestions for getting up and moving more often:
Add variety to your day. OSHA recommends mixing some non-computer-related tasks into your workday. Although you may need to spend some time sitting at the computer, find other tasks that require you to get up and walk around.
Consider using an exercise ball instead of a chair. Because an exercise ball is unstable, it requires you to balance yourself using various stabilizer muscles in your legs and core.
- Sitting on an exercise ball is good for your back and it helps keep your spine in proper alignment.
Get up and stand at your desk. If you have to be at your desk all day, no rule prevents you from standing up. Activating your muscles gets the blood flowing.
Conventional wisdom would have us believe that getting a decent amount of exercise would offset the negative effects of prolonged sitting. However, exercise alone isn’t the answer. So, make some adjustments today and lessen the amount of sitting you do. Your body will thank you for taking care of it.