A study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine has shown that sitting for a long period increases the odds of an untimely death.
The study said sitting for prolonged periods raised the risk of cardiovascular disease by 14 percent, cancer by 13 percent and diabetes by a huge 91 percent.
Those who sat for long stretches and got no regular exercise had a 40 percent higher risk of early death. With regular exercise, the risk was smaller but still significant: about 10 percent.
Sitting for too long can also cause a number of digestive disorders, the most common being haemorrhoids.
Haemorrhoids occur when extreme abdominal pressure makes the veins swell and become likelier to get irritated. The pressure causes the veins to be weak. This pressure may be caused by various factors, one of which is sitting for too long.
The belief has been that if you are fit and physically active, you are protected, even if you spend a huge amount of time sitting each day. This assumption was debunked by Joann Mason, one of the authors of the study, saying “even if you are doing the recommended amount of moderate to vigorous exercise, you will still have a higher risk of mortality if you’re spending too many hours sitting”.
Though there have been no conclusive studies to explain how exactly sitting for a long period of time can increase mortality rate, sedentary behaviour is increasingly recognised as an important health risk.
Sedentary behaviour refers to any waking activity characterised by energy expenditure less than or equal to 1.5 metabolic equivalents and a sitting or reclining posture. In general, this means that when people sit or lie down, they are engaging in sedentary behaviour.
Below are some of things that can be done to reduce the risk of dying from sitting for a long period of time:
- Work out. Set your smartphone timer to go off every 30 to 60 minutes during the day. When the alarm rings, stretch and move around the office to avoid any prolonged sitting at one time. This does not mean you should cut our intensive exercise all together; instead add this to your exercise routine daily.
- Sit less. Standing burns twice as many calories as sitting. In the study, women who were inactive for 11 or more hours a day fared the worst, facing a 12% increase in premature death, but even lesser amounts of inactive time can cause problems. Sitting for more than six to eight hours is not good for anyone. Try doing some work on your feet. Answer phone calls on your feet and generally spend less time sitting.
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