Believe it or not, sitting too much at work and at home can have a major impact on your health. And surprisingly, trying to make up time spent sitting with extra exercise does little to reverse the negative effects of sitting.
But how much sitting is too much? Aviroop Biswas, lead researcher on a report of 47 studies on the relationship between mortality and sitting, suggests that sitting more than eight hours a day can be detrimental to your health.
The report found that people who sit for long periods of time are 24 percent more likely to have died from health problems during the course of the study than people who spent more time standing and moving around than sitting. Sitting for long periods of time is linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart problems.
Avoiding the potential health consequences of a sedentary lifestyle seems relatively simple: spend more time standing and less time sitting. Here are a few tips:
- If you have a desk job, consider making the transition to a sit/stand desk, which will allow you to comfortably work at your desk while standing.
- If getting a new desk isn’t doable, make a conscious effort to get up and walk around at least once an hour.
- Rather than emailing a colleague, get up and walk to his or her desk for a face-to-face conversation.
- Stand up while on the phone.
- Have “walking meetings” rather than sitting around a conference room.
Taking steps to spend more time standing and less time sitting can help to significantly reduce your risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and a number of other health problems. Try to spend less than eight hours a day sitting.
There is one catch. Research suggests that people who spend less time sitting at work actually sit more at home—a subconscious compensation for the increased time spent standing. If you sit less at work, but in turn spend more time sitting at home, you won’t reap the benefits.
The key is to make a conscious effort to sit less and stand more, whether you’re at work or at home. Just because you work out in the morning or spend more time standing at work doesn’t mean you can get away with being a couch potato at home. Make a general effort to be more active and less sedentary.