Too much sitting is bad for your health

Sitting for long periods of time is linked to a number of health concerns. They include obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high blood cholesterol levels.
Too much sitting, or prolonged periods of sitting, consequently increase the risk of developing and dying from heart disease and cancer.
Any extended sitting – such as at a desk, behind a wheel or in front of a screen – can be harmful. The health risks for those who sit for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity are similar to that posed by obesity and smoking.
Numerous studies have found that being sedentary is linked to a slew of physical maladies, from heart disease to cancer to early death.
A bit of good news is that some studies have found that 60 minutes of moderately intense physical activity a day countered the effects of too much sitting.
Another study found that sitting time contributed little to mortality for people who were otherwise physically active.
Too much sitting is as bad for the brain as it is for the body.
If you don’t quite believe that sitting is one of the worst things we can do for our health, a new study should clear any lingering doubts: sitting isn’t just a physical health risk – it’s a brain health risk as well.
The study, done at the University of California in Los Angeles, reports that people with sedentary life styles have thinning in brain regions linked to memory – and even high-levels of exercise don’t seem to undo the effects of sitting too much.
The researchers suggest that it is possible that sedentary behavior is a more significant predictor of brain structure, specifically thickness, and that physical activity, even at higher levels, is not sufficient to offset the harmful effects of sitting for extended periods of time.
The study is important for a couple of reasons. One is that sedentary behavior is known to be a predictor of Alzheimer’s risk.
Earlier studies also tend to suggest that more time spent sitting is linked to worsening mental function, which could be a symptom of existing changes to the brain itself.
Reducing the amount of sitting that people do may be a more effective intervention than exercise alone. This has been said for physical health, and the same may be said for brain health as well.
Why does sitting affect brain health in this way? Some potential factors include a reduction in the ability of brain cells to regenerate and increased inflammation.
All of these variables are known to be enhanced with exercise, so it’s interesting that in this study, even exercise did not reverse the effects of sitting.
More study is needed on the effects of sitting and physical activity on health. However, it seems clear that less sitting and more moving overall contribute to better health.
You might start by simply standing rather than sitting whenever you have the chance or if possible, walk while you work.
For example:
• Take a break from sitting every 30 minutes.
• Stand while talking on the phone or watching television.
• If you work at a desk, try a standing desk – or improvise with a high table or counter.
• Walk while you talk with colleagues, rather than sitting in a conference room.
The impact of movement – even leisurely movement – can be profound. For starters, you’ll burn more calories. This might lead to weight loss and increased energy. Also, physical activity helps maintain muscle tone, your ability to move and your mental well-being, especially as you age.
“Sit less, move more.” This benefits both physical and mental health.