BHealthy Blog

Sitting Too Long Can Be Bad for You

Dr. Scott Davis, Baptist Health Arkansas Cardiology

The vast majority of Americans spend a good portion of their days tethered to a desk. This type of sedentary lifestyle can take a serious toll on your health and even lead to an early death. However, just because you spend most days glued to a chair doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doomed. Just 30 minutes of physical activity a day can counteract a day of sitting, according to a new study published this month.

One in four U.S. adults sit for more than eight hours a day, according to the CDC. About 40 percent of adults don’t bother with physical activity. Together, both behaviors can be deadly. In fact, a sedentary lifestyle has been linked to multiple dangerous health risks. Sitting for long periods of times — like six to eight hours a day — has increased risk of developing truncal obesity, hypertension, higher blood sugar, and higher cholesterol levels leading to metabolic syndrome, which then has increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from those events.

Replace that sedentary time with more moderate to vigorous exercise, like running and biking, and you’ll cut the risk of early mortality by 35 percent. Even short 1 to 2-minute bursts of movement were linked to long-term valuable health benefits.

If you have a job or lifestyle that involves a lot of sitting, you can lower your risk of early death by moving more often, for as long as you want and as your ability allows — whether that means taking an hour-long high-intensity spin class or choosing lower-intensity activities, like walking. If you have a desk job, simply make a point to get up every hour or so and spend a few minutes walking around or stretching. Also think about engaging in light calisthenics every so often (think: squats, crunches, or push-ups).  You don’t need a fancy gym membership to reap the benefits.

Movement can also improve our overall mood, decrease stress levels, and, ultimately, prolong our lifespan.

Watch Dr. Davis talk more about this on KATV