A typical office worker is sedentary for 21 hours out of the day. Including exercise and physical activity, people across the U.S. only spend approximately 3 hours out of the day simply standing. This is very similar to what happens in many Asian countries.
This phenomenon has been coined as “Sitting Disease,” which, broadly speaking, is defined as a condition of increased sedentary behavior associated with adverse health effects.
Sitting Disease causes:
– 94% higher chance of death in inactive women who sit for 6+ hours a day compared to standing counterparts
– 48% higher chance of death in inactive men who sit for 6+ hours a day compared to standing counterparts
Over the last few years of working from home, staying at home orders, and social distancing, many people are sitting even more than before the COVID-19 pandemic. Sitting is something so commonplace we often don’t realize just how much of our day is truly spent sedentary. However, sitting for too long can have many negative impacts on health and longevity.
A 2011 study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that prolonged sitting was associated with an increased risk of 34 chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
Sedentary behavior can be defined by two things: the position you are in, which is generally reclining or sitting, and the amount of energy expenditure that your body is experiencing.
You may wonder if this applies to you?
Unfortunately, according to The Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, the “Active Couch Potato” phenomenon states that even an active person who works out five times a week still faces the risks associated with “Sitting Disease” if they are living a sedentary lifestyle outside of the gym. Unfortunately, you can’t undo eight plus hours of sitting with a workout!
Although participating in moderate to vigorous exercise 3-5 times a week is recommended, it’s important to start with the first step: standing. Dr. Brian Liem, MD, FAAPMR, from UW Sports Medicine, says that a “lifestyle of prolonged sitting is distinctly different even from a lifestyle absent of routine exercise.”
You can also combat “Sitting Disease” through small things. Try parking farther away, standing while you eat lunch, and doing one-leg balance stances while you watch television or brush your teeth. Every little step you take is one less moment spent sitting.
Alongside standing, aerobic exercise is extremely important. As recommended by the researchers, you should be performing a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity about 5 days a week or 20 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity about 3 days a week.