You might want to sit down for this. Or rather not, because what we’re about to tell you is a little-known fact about the one thing most of us do for the better part of the day: sitting too much is slowly killing you. No lies. And this isn’t a claim of a fringe study; results by the American Cancer Society and a study published in The American Journal of Epidemiology both state this as a matter of fact.
The American Cancer society’s study point out that women are twice as likely to suffer adverse effects of too much sitting, which is considered more than six hours a day. Life threatening diseases or conditions that can result from too much sitting include heart problems, diabetes and obesity.
Now we know what you’re thinking: yes you do sit six or more hours per day, but you’re also a gym fanatic, take the tube or walk, and eat healthily (whilst sitting down, no less). Unfortunately this is one of those instances where you cannot actively counter the effects of too much sitting (except by not sitting so much anymore).
Sitting, even when you have the correct posture, results in inactive leg muscles, slows the rate at which your body is burning calories and slows your body’s fat break-down capabilities down to a virtual halt. Whichever way you look at it, sitting also intensifies pressure on the spine quite severely.
And to add insult to injury, it’s a new phenomenon limited to today’s generation where we force ourselves to sit for hours in front of computer screens before getting up and going home, to sit in front of the television. We sit 8% more than we did 30 years ago, men walk, in any one week, 21 – 58 miles less than they did 160 years a go.
Back in the 1950’s Jeremy Morris found that the bus drivers of London’s famous red buses were more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than the bus conductors; government clerks were more like to face the dark unknown sooner than mail carriers.
The American Journal of Epidemiology’s study suggests that those who lead a sedentary lifestyle (i.e. sitting for several hours per day) are more at risk of developing a specific type of colon cancer.
It’s all too scary. And we thought you should know – because it’s not about exercising more, it’s about a change in lifestyle.
Here are a couple of tips that you should keep in mind, and apply, to promote your immediate health, and your longevity:
- Don’t sit for more than one hour at a time – get up and walk around the office a bit. When you return to your chair, sit in a different position.
- Avoid fatty snacks and foods
- Get as much exercise as you can, even at work: instead of just taking on tasks that allow you to sit at your desk, offer to go make photocopies for the entire office, or volunteer for coffee duty – anything that will get you moving about a bit.
Yes Ladies and Gentlemen, you have to ensure that you spend more time on your feet than on your bum. For many this will require quite a bit of determination, because you’ll have to start exercising those muscles that have grown so weak from all the sitting. But the result is definitely worth it…