Sitting at a desk all day can kill you.
Several recent research studies and scientific articles have revealed alarming links between sedentary behavior and a number of deadly diseases. Here are summaries of just a few of them:
Too much sitting: a novel and important predictor of chronic disease risk?
This editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine says that “contemporary changes in transport, occupations, domestic tasks and leisure activities have had negative effects on daily energy expenditure.” In other words, many of our modern lifestyle advances encourage sitting and other sedentary behaviors. The problems is not just sitting at work all day; long commutes, TV, and video games all contribute to our inactivity problem. The authors cite a study that found that “self-reported sitting time (as a marker of sedentary behavior) was a predictor of weight gain in Australian women, even after adjustment for energy intake and leisure time physical activity.” In other words, no matter how active you are otherwise, prolonged sitting is bad for you. This editorial includes one bit of encouraging news: “a larger number of breaks in sedentary time are associated with more favorable metabolic profiles.” So it looks like breaking up your work day with a walk now and then may help.
Sitting time and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer
This study of 17,000 Canadians ranging in age from 18 to 90 found “a dose-response association between sitting time and mortality from all causes . . . independent of leisure time physical activity.” In other words, no matter how active you are otherwise, the more you sit, the sooner you’ll die. Among the study’s conclusions: “Physicians should discourage sitting for extended periods.”
Your Chair: Comfortable but Deadly
In this introduction to a series of articles in the journal Diabetes, James A. Levine says, “Modernity has imposed a Chair Sentence; work, home, and play are the shackles.” Sedentary habits, labor-saving gadgets, and less-active leisure pursuits have confined us to chairs and sentenced us to a higher risk of diabetes (and other diseases). Summarizing one of the articles in the series, Levine says, “The human evolved to feed, shelter, and invent while ambulatory. The human, simply put, was not designed to sit all day.”
Among the many possible dangers of sitting mentioned in these studies and articles:
- cardiovascular disease
- metabolic syndrome
- excess weight/obesity
- shorter life span
- “deleterious psychological and psychosocial effects”
P.S. I, of course, wrote this blog post standing up.