So you might ask, how dangerous is sitting all day? Before you read any further, please stand up.
So how dangerous is sitting all day? Let’s do some math and makes some estimations. Let’s assume you sleep about eight hours a day. This leaves about 16 hours or 960 minutes for your daily activities. Each day you get up, get ready for the day, and hopefully eat breakfast. You sit and eat your breakfast…15 minutes. You get in the car and drive to work…15 minutes. You get out of the car, walk into work, greet some coworkers, and take a seat…120 minutes. Your back or neck starts to ache, so it is about time for a break and some coffee. You then return to your seat until lunch…90 minutes. Finally, it is time for lunch. You get up and head to the break room and take a seat while you eat…30 minutes. Back to work and the afternoon looks similar to the morning…210 minutes. Work is done! Time to get up and go sit in the car to drive home…15 minutes. You eat a nice meal at the table or on the couch…30 minutes. You get up, maybe help with dishes, and then get ready to relax in the easy chair and soak up your favorite program for the evening….180 minutes. If this is a typical day for you, near 75% of your day was spent sitting.
Maybe these are bad estimations, so go ahead, calculate your typical day.
____ minutes sitting/____minutes awake=___% daily sitting
The warning sign you may have never read: “Danger: Sitting in this chair can cause serious injury or death.”
Numerous studies have been demonstrating a strong link between sitting and a myriad of problems(*1). A major concern is that sitting is related to all-cause mortality. Simply put: the more you sit, the more likely you are to die regardless of any other factor. Sitting to watch television, sitting to play video games, sitting in the car, sitting at work, sitting at school, and sitting at home have all been associated with increased all-cause mortality in various studies. Prolonged sitting is also associated with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic disease, and certain cancers. This means that, even if sitting does not kill you, it may dramatically influence your life.
Sitting can negatively affect both quantity and quality of life(*2).
Sitting may have an even larger effect as one ages. One study looked at the amount of time that a person (60+ years) sits and the amount of disability they have performing normal daily activities. For every hour a person sits, they are about 45% more likely to have a disability that impacts their normal daily living. Every hour you sit each day may have a profound impact on your life either now, or in the future.
Sitting is a pain in the neck(*3).
People who stood for an extra hour a day at work using a sit to stand station had over 50% less neck and upper back pain compared to their colleagues. Reported states of mood were also improved with those who stood more throughout their day.
Think twice about how often you sit.
Some sitting in life may be unavoidable. Very few vehicles allow you to stand and drive in, but if you are only going to drive a few blocks, think about walking. If you are you going to drive a few miles, consider taking a bike. Work in an office? Sit-to-stand desks are becoming more affordable, and companies are beginning to see the value they can bring to employees. Feel like you cannot miss your favorite television show and walking on a treadmill isn’t an option? Get up during every commercial break and try a simple exercise such as marching in place, jumping jacks, squats, or push-ups.
Stand up for yourself. Start today!
Create a challenge for yourself and your friends. Try to implement one new strategy a day to reduce sitting duration. See how many hours of sitting you can cut out of your typical day. Share this information with friends and family. Together we can become healthier and happier. All you need to do is take a stand.
Just How Dangerous Is Sitting All Day?
1. Van der Ploeg HP, Chey T, et al. Sitting time and all-cause mortality risk in 222497 Australian adults. Arch Intern Med. 2012 Mar 26;172(6):494-500.
2. Dunlop DD, Song J, Arntson EK, et al. Sedentary Time in US Older Adults Associated with Disability in Activities of Daily Living Independent of Physical Activity. Journal of Physical Activity and Health 2015 12:1, 93-101.
3. Pronk NP, Katz AS, Lowry M, Payfer JR. Reducing Occupational Sitting Time and Improving Worker Health: The Take-a-Stand Project, 2011. Prev Chronic Dis 2012;9:110323.