Do You Worry That You’re Sitting Too Much?

By Morgan Beck

We live in a society where “being on our feet all day” has become a burden. It isn’t something we generally seek. At the end of a long work day we can’t wait to get home and sit on the couch.

While there is nothing wrong with taking a load off, a 2018 study found that 40-50% of Americans sit at least 8 hours a day. These 8 hours mainly accounted for their work day; this doesn’t include the time spent sitting while at home. Before we can want to commit to being more intentional about standing, we must be aware of the dangers of sitting too much and how we can fix our habits.

Sitting too much puts you at a higher risk of weight gain

A recent study published by the Mayo Clinic used 7,000 adults and measured body mass index, body fat percentage, and weight circumference. The study found that women who stand at least six hours a day had a 35% reduced chance of obesity. Men in the study saw a 59% reduced likelihood of obesity.

Sitting too much puts you at a higher risk of heart disease

A prolonged sedentary lifestyle has been thought to increase your risk of heart disease by up to 147%, according to PubMed Central. It is so harmful that even an hour of exercise may not make up for the harmful effects of sitting all day. Our cardiovascular system works more efficiently when we stand. As a result of this, our blood can flow better and we are able to burn more calories.

Sitting too much can cause muscle tightness

When we sit, our hip flexor muscles are shortened. This results in weak and tight hip and glute muscles, along with possible back pain. In addition, when we sit, many of us sit with poor posture, significantly increasing your risk of this chronic pain.

The answer to too much sitting is…

Now that we know just some of the risks of sitting, what are some practical things we can do to fix it? I’ve got two ideas for you.

1. Invest in a standing desk

Sometimes sitting for long periods of time is part of our job. We have to sit at a desk, sit in meetings, and sit on planes. An easy fix to having to sit at a desk all day is a standing desk. These are inexpensive and a great way to hold you accountable to spend less time seated in that desk chair.

2. Spend 30 on and 30 off 

One great accountability method is to set a reminder to remind you to stand every 30 minutes. Another study published by PubMed, took office workers in only a 10 day experiment and had them sit for 30 minutes and stand for 30 minutes throughout their work days. At the end of the study participants reported having significantly reduced lower back pain and a lower fatigue score when alternating between sitting and standing. This procedure can also be used on those long plane rides.

So let’s stand up to sitting!