Why sitting might be killing you

“Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We our sitting ourselves to death.” —Dr. Levine, Director of the Mayo Clinic

The average American sits for over 9 hours a day. Humans were built to be hunter-gatherers, and our sedentary lifestyle is starting to take its toll on our health.  A person who sits for over 6 hours a day is 40% more likely to die within 15 years than a person who sits for less than 3. So why is sitting so harmful. 

When we sit, electrical activity shuts off in our leg muscles and calorie burning drops drastically. All the enzymes that work to break down fat drop by 90%. After two hours, good cholesterol drops, and after 24, insulin effectiveness decreases and the risk of diabetes increases. People with desk jobs or seated jobs have twice the rate of cardiovascular disease than people with standing jobs. 

30 minutes or even an hour of exercise a day is not enough if you spend the majority of your day sitting. It’s important to interrupt your sitting as much as possible, getting up to move at least once an hour. Walking will help you burn 5 times more calories than sitting. While it’s not typically practical to get up and do some jumping jacks in your cubicle, it’s what you do outside of work that can have a major impact. 

If you want to binge on some Netflix, don’t sit while you watch. People who sit for 3 hours (or more) a day watching tv are 64% more likely to die of heart disease. You can still watch your show, but try watching while you bike or walk on a treadmill. While we can’t always change our activity levels at work, we can make the change at home. So get up and move!