How a sedentary lifestyle can hurt you

Research shows that sitting for long periods of time are associated with a number of health issues such as diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels. Too much sitting can also increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.

One of the biggest issues facing many people today is a sedentary lifestyle. Too many people are often sitting down whether it be for their office job, driving, or simply by watching too much television. Prolonged sitting can lead to numerous health issues. For example, it increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by 90%.  Research says that even if we exercise, a sedentary lifestyle can still kill us prematurely by increasing our chances of disease. Other health hazards of prolonged sitting include an increased risk for cancer, heart disease, bad backs, muscle degeneration, and poor leg circulation. Most people sit 7-9 hours a day, especially due to the cubicle lifestyle that has become so common in the workforce. Fortunately, this can be reversed. By getting more physical activity, you can lower your risk of certain diseases including cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Being more active will also increase insulin sensitivity, reduce body fat, inflammation, metabolic hormones and sex steroid hormones.  

As soon as you sit down, the electrical activity in leg muscles shuts off and normal calorie burning drops to 1 calorie per minute.  Additionally, the enzymes that help break down fat drop by 90%.  After 2 hours of sitting your good cholesterol drops 20%.  After 24 hours of sitting and inactivity the effectiveness of your insulin drops 24% and your risk of diabetes increases.  Studies have also said that sitting may be responsible for >170,000 cases of cancer each year.  Statistically, breast and colon cancers have been shown to be the most influenced by physical inactivity.  So the more time people spend sitting, the higher their risk of dying early.   You can think of this as something physicians call “sitting disease”.

How to limit a sedentary lifestyle:

·       Get up from your desk at least once an hour.  Remember that taking breaks are necessary for your health.

·       Strive to work out or walk briskly at least 30 min a day, 5 days/week

·       Try to make little changes:

    • Get off the bus/train one stop early and walk to/from work
    • Park your car in the back of parking lots, away from where you’re headed