Why Is Sitting Bad for Health? 5 Risks and 1 Simple Solution

Why Is Sitting Bad for Health? 5 Risks and 1 Simple SolutionThese days, most workplaces are full of sedentary people. The office environment, combined with the nature of work dominated by technology, make it so that many people sit for most, if not all of the workday.

I work at a computer each day. And although I try very hard to take breaks, move frequently, and even stand while I work, it can be easy to lose track of time and slip into a long period of uninterrupted sitting.

Unfortunately for those of us who do sedentary work, sitting for hours at a time without getting up is not very good for us. But why, exactly, is sitting bad for health?

5 Reasons why sitting is bad for your health

  1. Sitting can cause anxiety. People who spend more time sitting are more likely to experience symptoms of anxiety.
  2. Sitting can raise cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The longer you sit each day, the higher your cholesterol and triglyceride levels can be. Learn more here.[1,2]
  3. Sitting can raise blood sugar. For every two hours less you sit each day, your blood sugar can be reduced by 2%.[1]
  4. Sitting can reduce your life expectancy. It is estimated that if US adults spent less than three hours sitting per day, the population could increase its life expectancy by two years. [3]
  5. Sitting hurts your arteries. The health of your blood vessels is significantly impaired when you sit for prolonged periods of time.[4] Researchers found that sitting for six straight hours reduced vascular function and blood flow in the legs.[4] This can cause excessive force of blood on the artery walls.

How to Reduce the Damage

The good news is that just 10 minutes of walking can reverse some of the damages caused by prolonged sitting. The researchers who looked at people sitting for six hours found that a 10-minute walk alleviated the vascular impairments.

This is good news for those people who might not have much of a choice when it comes to sitting a lot; even just short bouts of physical activity to break up your sitting time can make a big difference.

Tips for moving more during the workday

  • If you work at a desk or have to sit a lot throughout the day, take a short break every hour or so to get up and walk around for a few minutes.
  • Use restroom breaks as a chance to take a quick walk. If you work in a multi-story building, take the stairs to a different floor when you use the restrooms.
  • Consider trying out a standing desk or working at an elevated surface so you can stand up.
  • Have walking meetings instead of sitting in a conference room.
  • Take a 10 to 30 minute walk either before you leave work or right when you get home.
  • Look for a gym that is between your work and home so it’s easy to stop in before or after work when the weather is poor.
  • Walk, bike ride, or take public transport to work. Read more in The Healthy Commute: Walking and Bike Riding to Lose Weight and Reduce Stress.

Share your experience

How do you build in time for movement throughout the workday? Have you tried having walking meetings? Do you actively commute to work? Share your tips for breaking up sitting time in the comments section below.

[1] Eur Heart J. 2015 Jul 30. pii: ehv308.

[2] Lipids Health Dis. 2015 Aug 11;14:87.

[3] BMJ Open. 2012 Jul 9;2(4).

[4] Exp Physiol. 2015 Jul 1;100(7):829-38.

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UHN Staff

University Health News is produced by the award-winning editors and authors of Belvoir Media Group’s Health & Wellness Division. Headquartered in Norwalk, Conn., with editorial offices in Florida, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, … Read More

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