Sitting is the New Smoking—7 Ways a Sedentary Lifestyle is Killing You

The research is in on the sitting epidemic and the results aren’t good

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The ticking clock and furious patter of computer keys are staples in offices around the world. Regardless of specific business, offices share many similarities. One such similarity is a sedentary culture and studies show all that sitting is taking a major toll on employee health. 

From the driver’s seat to the office chair and then the couch at home, American’s are spending more time seated than ever and researchers say it’s wreaking havoc on our bodies. The Los Angeles Times recently interviewed Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative and inventor of the treadmill desk. Levine has been studying the adverse effects of our increasingly sedentary lifestyles for years and has summed up his findings in two sentences.

Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.

Levine is credited with coining that mantra—“sitting is the new smoking”—but he’s not the only one who believes it. Researchers have found and continue to find evidence that prolonged sitting increases the risk of developing several serious illnesses like various types of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Another reason the smoking analogy is relevant is that studies have repeatedly shown the effects of long-term sitting are not reversible through exercise or other good habits. Sitting, like smoking, is very clearly bad for our health and the only way to minimize the risk is to limit the time we spend on our butts each day. If you need a bit more encouragement, take a look at all of the ways sitting is killing you…and then scour Pinterest to make your own standing desk.

Highly Sedentary People Have a Greater Risk of Developing Cancer

According to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, which looked at more than 4 million individuals and 68,936 cancer cases, sitting for long periods of time increases your risk for colon, endometrial and, possibly, lung cancer. The study found that even in physically active individuals, sitting increased the risk, and the risk worsened with each two hour increase in sitting time.

Separate research links long-term sedentary habits with breast and colon cancer.

Frequent Sitters Have a Greater Risk of Developing Heart Disease

study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that men and women who sat more than six hours a day died earlier than their counterparts who limited sitting time to 3 hours a day or less. The study surveyed 53,440 men and 69,776 women who were healthy at the start of the study and over the course of the 14-year follow-up they saw a higher rate of mortality among the frequent sitters. “Associations were strongest for cardiovascular disease mortality. The time spent sitting was independently associated with total mortality, regardless of physical activity level,” the study says.

Click here to see more ways prolonged sitting is shortening your life.

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