Geriatrician, Hospitalist, Patient Advocate, Healthcare Educator

Is Sitting Really Bad for Me?

We all know certain things like smoking are bad for us. What a lot of people don’t know is how bad the simple act of sitting is. The average American spends about 6 to10 hours sitting a day. This includes working, computer time, watching television, relaxing, commuting by car, bus, or train. With the global pandemic, more and more people are working remotely and that has dramatically reduced physical activity and in turn increased sedentary time.

What is not spoken too much about are the ill effects of sitting for prolonged periods of time. “Sitting disease” has been described by the scientific community to describe the adverse effects of increased sedentary behavior.

Here are just some of the effect - by no means exhaustive:

  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Muscle weakness
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Anxiety
  • Decrease in metabolic rate
  • Decrease in life span.

If you think by adhering to the recommended amount of activity you are counteracting the effects of “Sitting disease” you are wrong. Exercise does not negate the ill effects of prolonged sitting. Even though we cannot do much about certain sedentary activities such as needing to work at a desk or a computer, making a conscious attempt every day to prevent being sedentary is something that is in our power. Here are some of the things that can be done:

  • Stand or walk every chance you get! If you can talk on the phone standing or walking, do it
  • Look into a standing desk, treadmill desk, or bike desk as an addition to your office space if space permits. If you can work on your kitchen island standing for 30 minutes, take the opportunity
  • Take a break from sitting every 30 minutes or so and stand up and stretch. Set a reminder or alarm if you need to.
  • Listen to an audible book and take a walk instead of sitting down to read a book
  • Get up and walk during TV commercials
  • If you are going to play video games, try to incorporate some active video games