How Harmful is Too Much Sitting?
According to Dr. James A Levine, MD, PhD, at the Mayo Clinic, extensive research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns, including obesity and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels. Too much sitting also seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.
What Can You Do About It?
Dr. Levine suggests, "Any extended sitting — such as behind a desk at work or behind the wheel — can be harmful. What's more, spending a few hours a week at the gym or otherwise engaged in moderate or vigorous activity doesn't seem to significantly offset the risk. Rather, the solution seems to be less sitting and more moving overall. You might start by simply standing rather than sitting whenever you have the chance."
He recommends, "Stand while talking on the phone or eating lunch or if you work at a desk for long periods of time, try a standing desk."
What are the Benefits?
The muscle activity needed for standing and other movement seems to trigger important processes related to the breakdown of fats and sugars within the body. When you sit, these processes stall — and your health risks increase. When you're standing or actively moving, you kick the processes back into action.
Additional benefits found by standing more throughout the day are, higher energy levels, increased ability to concentrate and complete tasks, fewer headaches, and reduced neck and back pain.