Why sitting down all day is the worst thing you can do

18 November 2016

While many of us are aware that a general lack of activity can lead to increased risk of health problems, more information is surfacing that suggests periods of exercise don’t always balance out periods of rest.

A statement from the American Heart Association has outlines that sedentary behaviour can still increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other conditions among people who are physically active.

It is estimated that prolonged sitting is responsible for 430,000 all-cause deaths over 54 countries, which is the second highest risk factor for mortality, behind smoking.  This is due to the effects of prolonged periods of sedentary behaviour, such as impaired insulin sensitivity, increased stiffness of the lumbar spine and slowed metabolic rate.

While some earlier studies suggested that physical activity and non-activity could have an offset effect on each other, further research has debunked this theory.  Although exercising regularly is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, studies are finding that periods of exercise, no matter how strenuous or beneficial , do not actually counter-act the negative effects of sitting for extended periods of time.

Moves have been made towards allowing for more motion and standing in the workplace.  The use of standing/sitting desks and walking meetings are a couple of ways to get up and moving, for those who work from a desk.  Technology has also played a part in this, with alerts in wearable devices advising the user when they have been sitting for an extended period of time.

Being conscious of the need to move is an important first step to achieving the necessary behaviour change.  However, to really cement a new habit, users need to always keep in the back of their mind that sitting for extended periods is bad for your health and act on it.  Just stand up and move a little – stretch your legs, stretch your back, walk around the room.  Start with small changes and build them into an important healthy habit!