Sitting Is The New Smoking

“Even for people who hit the gym after a long day in a desk chair, sitting can be deadly. The findings led the study’s authors to suggest that people who sit a lot should get up and move around every 30 minutes to counter the health risks that come with prolonged sedentary behavior.”

–     Los Angeles Times

Yes. It’s true. A recent study led by Columbia University shared working out daily does not negate the effects of sitting for long periods at a time. “Exercise researcher Keith Diaz, tracked the movements of close to 8,000 Americans older than 45 by asking them to wear an accelerometer on their hip. Over a period of 10 days, sitting or lounging behavior took up the equivalent of 12.3 hours over a 16-hour waking day — about 77%, on average.”  Researchers then measured the “bout length” of sitting durations finding that 52% lasted less than a half-hour, 22% lasted from a half-hour and under an hour, 14% lasted from 60-89 minutes, and 14% say for more than 90 minutes the study showed.

The study tracked the subjects for four years and found that the subjects who racked up the most time sitting were most likely to have died during the study period. Those who spent the least time sitting were the least likely to have died. Also, those who sat for the longest amounts of time (without getting up) were more likely to have died than those with shorter sitting periods. “Such findings, of course, beg the question of which comes first — the immobility or the illness that leads to death.

However, these findings fit with those of other studies. “Scientists have found that racking up prolonged, uninterrupted bouts of sitting and lounging cause more worrisome short-term changes in metabolic and cardiovascular function than sedentary behavior that’s interrupted by periods of physical activity,” the Los Angeles Times shared. “It only makes sense that those short-term changes translate over time to more profound changes in the risk for diseases linked to sedentary behavior, said Dr. James A. Levine, an obesity expert at the Mayo Clinic who studies the health effects of sitting.”

Time spent at the computer isn’t going to go away any time soon – so how can we fight against the effects of a sedentary lifestyle if even a daily workout at the gym doesn’t cut it?

Get moving throughout your day – even if it’s just for a few moments. Try a timer. An Apple Watch or FitBit is a great way to understand your lifestyle patterns and movement throughout any given day. If you don’t have either of those – there are several apps that can be helpful – like GymBoss and BreakTime. And, if those aren’t an option, setting a simple timer on your phone or computer will help.

Make a schedule. Plan your day out in 30-minute intervals. Maybe you can walk around to take a phone call, plan a meeting after some computer time, take a walk, grab lunch with a co-worker or friend, or simply take a few minutes to stretch. At the very least, be mindful of the time you are spending sitting without breaks. Here’s a variety of quick stretching exercises to start!