Sitting for Hours at a Time: Not as Healthy as You Think

Biddy chair 2014For a while now we’ve known that sitting for extended periods of time is really unhealthy. I’ve been acutely aware of this since I started working from home, where I often find myself “in the zone” for hours at a time at my desk. I wrote about this on a blog entry a few months ago called The App That Saved My Heart.

Recently some new research has shown that sitting is even worse than we thought. It was this line that really caught my eye in an article on Quartz:

You can’t exercise away the habit’s harmful effects.

Basically, as the article explains, you can’t sit for hours at a time and then completely undo the negative affects of sitting by exercising. The worst damage is done during those extended sedentary periods (see the article for more details).

And we’re not just talking bigger waistlines:

The researchers examined close to 70,000 cancer cases and found that sitting is associated with a 24% increased risk of colon cancer, a 32% increased risk of endometrial cancer, and a 21% increased risk of lung cancer.

That’s bad.

However, the good news is that you can counter a lot of this damage simply by moving around every 20-30 minutes. You don’t even need to take a break from work–you can use that time to brainstorm.

For those of you who find yourselves sitting for long periods of time, what types of things do you do to ensure that you’re not sitting for longer than 20-30 minutes?

3 thoughts on “Sitting for Hours at a Time: Not as Healthy as You Think”

  1. Wow, what an important blog post to read! I sit most of the day in front of my computer, which is why I now ride my bike to the office (only 25 minute commute) and try to take short walking break often. But I didn’t know sitting for extended periods was so bad even when your compensating with workouts. Thanks for posting this and I will definitely share this around!

  2. I prepped medical charts in my previous job and you sit at a desk for it. Instead of sitting, I’ll just stand for a period of time. Do a little marching in place as I go through the charts. Then I’ll actually go outside of the office to walk around a block. I feel more productive for days that I do breaks than the ones I don’t.

    • Oh, and that standing desk link in the article for a home office or any office is not a bad idea. I wish jobs like mine required one. Having just one task to do is so mindless.


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