Sitting Disease

Sitting disease?  Never heard of it.  What?  Now you can’t even sit down without some scientific medical study showing that also to be bad for your health?  What are you supposed to do, move into a sterile hospital environment and be in a constant, moving activity, breathing purified air and wearing a filtering surgical mask?

Humm…  Nah, you don’t want to go there.

Sitting disease is a term coined by physicians to describe the devastating effect that sitting for long periods of time can have on your health – beyond the obvious such as back pain.   

So what’s so bad about sitting disease, as you call it?  Certainly a benign enough activity isn’t it?  How can that be hurting anyone?

Quite easily, as it turns out!  And you like “easy”, right?  There is nothing wrong with sitting, as long as you do it in moderation.  But are you sitting too much?

Where Did Sitting Disease Originate?

The problem is one we actually created for ourselves.  The marvelous advances in technology in recent years, which has created many labor saving devices, has been touted as making your life easier and less stressful.

Whether or not more ease and less stress has really improved your health is very much debatable or, at least, a mixed blessing.

Sounds harmless enough doesn’t it? 

So, What's the Problem?

But is it?  Consider how much you sit in a typical day. 

If you eat breakfast – and you do eat breakfast, right? – you probably sit through the meal.  You may also sit on your car driving to work or to the golf course.  You may then sit in the golf cart as you drive from green to green.  Then you drive home, sitting as your ride between errands.

Then there is lunch and dinner when you also sit.  How about a relaxing evening in front of the TV?  Sitting, of course.

What is too much sitting?

For example, there is a good chance you are reading this article while sitting in a chair.  If you are like most computer users, you have been in that same chair for a while.

Sounds harmless enough doesn’t it? 

According to the Mayo Clinic, a study compared people who spend less than two house a day watching TV to those who spent more than four hours a day watching.  Those who had the greater amount of time logged:

  • Had almost a 50% increased risk of death from any cause and
  • About a 125% risk increase of events associated with cardiovascular disease such as chest pain or heart attack. 

But sitting in front of the TV isn’t the only concern.  Any extended sitting, whether it’s behind the wheel or a desk, is not good for you. 

Even spending a few hours a week at the gym working out or other moderate or vigorous activity does not does not significantly reduce the risk brought on by extended sitting. 

Thirty minutes of vigorous exercise will not undo the damage done by sitting six hours a day.  Sitting for six hours a day makes you makes you 40% more likely to die fifteen years earlier than a person who sits less than three hours a day, even if your work out.

According to researchers at the Mayo Clinic, the solution appears to lie in the area of sitting less and moving more.  A good starting point would be to just stand rather than sit whenever you can.

The Mayo Clinic says that the muscle activity needed for standing and other movement seem to trigger important processes related to the breakdown of fats and sugars within the body.  When you are sitting, these processes stall – and your health risks increase.  When you stand or actively moving, these processes kick back into action.

So the conclusion is this: Don’t just sit there (for long).  Get moving!

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