“Prolonged sitting is not what nature intended for us,” says Dr. Camelia Davtyan, clinical professor of medicine and director of women’s health at theUCLA Comprehensive Health Program.
“The chair is out to kill us,” says James Levine, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine.
The human body was designed for walking, and people did a whole lot of that for millenniums. But lately, not so much. In general, scientists believe, most people now sit for more than half of their waking hours. Sadly, the sitting position exerts forces on the body that it’s not built to accommodate, Davtyan says, and so, as comfy as it may seem, couch potato-hood can lead to a host of woes, including poor circulation and assorted aches and pains.
Sitting at your desk for hours on end, slaving away diligently, can increase your chances of getting a promotion – but also diabetes, heart disease or even an early grave. A study published in the journal Diabetologia in November 2012 analyzed the results of 18 studies with a total of nearly 800,000 participants. When comparing people who spent the most time sitting with those who spent the least time, researchers found increases in the risks of diabetes (112%), cardiovascular events (147%), death from cardiovascular causes (90%) and death from all causes (49%).
“Sitting is the new smoking,” says Anup Kanodia, a physician and researcher at the Center for Personalized Health Care at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. As evidence, he cites an Australian study published in October 2012 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine that compared the two pastimes. Every hour of TV that people watch, presumably while sitting, cuts about 22 minutes from their life span, the study’s authors calculated.
The good news is that another showed that simply going for a two-minute walk every 20 minutes can greatly reduce the risk of sitting.
So stay active and keep moving during your day.