Sitting for too long each day could mean declining health and a shorter lifespan

Well, I hate news like this, considering I am sitting at this very moment writing so that you know you should probably get up. But yes, there have been many studies dedicated to letting us know that it’s a good idea to move our bodies around and stand up and all of that. In fact, […]

Well, I hate news like this, considering I am sitting at this very moment writing so that you know you should probably get up.

But yes, there have been many studies dedicated to letting us know that it’s a good idea to move our bodies around and stand up and all of that. In fact, according to findings from 47 different studies, sitting for long hours can raise our average risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and early death.

And the studies keep coming. The latest research, published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that “those who engage in regular physical activity but still spend a large proportion of their day in sedentary activity were found, on average, to be 30% less likely to die of any cause in a given period than were those who get little to no exercise,” The LA Times reported. “But even those who punctuate a long day of sitting with a vigorous workout were estimated to be 16% more likely to die of any cause in a given time than were those who do not sit for long.

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So for those of us who seriously sit behind a computer for a living, what can we do to compensate for the issue if even exercising doesn’t put us in the clear from risks?

Dr. David Alter, senior scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and a senior author of the paper, provided some tips that seem reasonable:

  • While working at a desk, be sure to get up for one to three minutes every half-hour or so and move around.
  • While watching TV, stand or exercise during the advertisements (and no, don’t go stand at the open fridge or the pantry).
  • Monitor how much you sit, and try to reduce it by realistic increments every week. You should aim for two to three fewer sedentary hours in a 12-hour day. A wearable monitor can help establish a baseline and assess progress toward a goal.
  • Know that getting regular exercise is good for you regardless of what you do for the rest of the day: It will not only help reduce your sedentary time, it should lower your risk of illness and improve your survival prospects if you have no alternative to logging long hours in a chair.

[Photo from Flickr user Emiliano]