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Sitting Is Killing You: The Truth About Sitting Down

Jolie O’Dell: MedicalBillingandCoding.org May 27, 2011

Sitting Is Killing You

The Truth About Sitting Down

As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, there is one thing nearly all modern Americans have in common: we sit all the time. Though our great shift towards computer-based work has done great things for productivity, it has, unfortunately, done terrible things for our health. From increased risk of heart disease and obesity in the long term, to sharply hampered cholesterol maintenance in the short term, the negative health effects of sitting are starting to weigh heavily against the benefits. Even the medical field – the greatest advocates of reducing sitting time – is plagued by this new health issue. Though doctors and nurses get plenty of walking time, it usually falls to the secretaries, billers, and coders to do all the sitting. And, as we can see, something has to change.

Sitting down, which most of us do for at least eight hours each day, might be the worst thing we do for our health all day. A recent medical journal study showed that people who sit for most of their day are 54% more likely to die of a heart attack.

Whether tending our crops or hunting wild boar, most of our lives as humans were lived on our feet. But with the advent of TV, computers, and the desk job, we’re sitting down more than ever before in history: 9.3 hours a day, even more time that we spend sleeping (7.7 hours). Our bodies weren’t built for that, and it's starting to take its toll. You might want to stand up for this.

Sitting Increases Risk of Death Up to 40%

Sitting 6 or more hours per day makes you up to 40% likelier to die within 15 years than someone who sits less than 3. Even if you exercise. Studies show that only reducing sitting time helps. It’s clear that sitting in killing us: but how?

Sitting Makes Us Fat

Obese people sit for 2.5 more hours per day that thin people. 1 in3 Americans is obese.

Between 1980 and 2000:

  • Exercise rates stayed the Same
  • Sitting time increased 8%
  • Obesity rates doubled.


Energy Expenditure compared to sitting.

  • Standing expends 10% more energy than sitting.
  • Chewing gum expends 15% more energy  than sitting.
  • Walking expends 150% more energy  than sitting.
  • Climbing stairs expends 210% more energy  than sitting.

Effects of sitting aren’t just long term, though.  Your body goes into meltdown the moment you sit down.

How Sitting Wrecks Your Body

As Soon As You Sit:

  • Electircal activity in the leg muscles shuts off.
  • Calorie burning drops to 1 per minute 
  • Enzymes that help break down fat drop 90%

 After 2 Hours:

  • Good Cholesterol (HDL) drops 20%

 After 24 Hours:

  • Insulin effectiveness drops 24% and risk of diabetes rises

 People with sitting jobs have twice the rate of cardiovascular disease as people with standing jobs.

How To Get Out of your Chair Alive

For many of us, sitting for  8 hours a day at our job is inevitable. But it’s the extra sitting outside of work that turns a serious problem deadly.

The recommended 30 minutes  of activity per day is not enough. Interrupt sitting whenever you can:

  • Stretch
  • Walk
  • Jumping Jacks

All are suitable for breaking the sitting routine. Walking burn 3-5 times the calories that sitting does. Take every opportunity to walk around the office.

Get Off The Couch

Those who sis  3 hours or more per day watching TV are 64% more likely to die from heart disease. Of those who sit in front of the TV 3 hours per day, those who exercise are just as fat as those who don’t. Each extra hour of watching TV = 11% higher death risk.

The human body simply isn’t built to sit for long periods of time. A hundred years ago, when we were all out toiling in the fields and factories, obesity was basically nonexistent. But since we can’t exactly run free in the fields until the end of our days, we have to help our bodies in other ways. We have to stand up for our right to stand up.