Simply, the answer is a resounding yes. But not because the act of resting the body in a sedentary position is actually dangerous – the danger comes from the exorbitant amount of time that we spend sitting.
The reasons behind this monumental switch are many. Primarily, as the majority of people have shifted from working on the land to working in offices, we have naturally gotten accustomed to sitting during our working hours.
Secondly, the trivial pursuits of modern day people are more and more focused on sitting in front of the television, in contrast to engaging in physical activity for pleasure. In fact, 20-35% of people spend four or more hours watching TV every day. Every single day.
So what is all this sedentary behavior getting us? Research shows that over time, prolonged sitting can actually increase the possibility of serious health problems, including high cholesterol, obesity, colon cancer, cardiovascular disease, dangerous glucose levels in the blood, type 2 diabetes, low back pain and even death.
Looking at this research in contrast to your daily pattern of sitting can be depressing. But luckily, there are lots of things that we can do to increase the physical activity in our lives.
- Implement a standing work station at your job, so that you can work while standing upright. Studies show that not only will you increase your health, but you will actually become more alert and work more effectively.
- If a standing desk doesn’t tickle your fancy (or isn’t possible in your environment), try getting up every 30 minutes during the day to take a short walk or move around for a few moments before sitting back down to work again.
- Stand up and walk around when you take phone calls. Obviously, this will work a lot better if you are using a mobile phone. But pacing or moving about while taking that long conference call can keep your mind from wandering – or from deciding that this is the perfect opportunity to check Facebook.
- Take a walk after you eat each meal, when the fat levels in your blood are highest. Just by moving after you are done eating, you rev up your metabolism so it will work harder for you to burn fat.
- Use your television-watching hours as an opportunity to fit in exercises and stretches that you might not normally have time to do. Try doing sit-ups during Conan or simple yoga poses while you enjoy Mad Men. You’ll be surprised at the difference this makes.
And if all of the statistics and research above haven’t impressed you into trying to live a less sedentary lifestyle, consider this: reducing the amount of sitting that you do each day by just three hours can add two whole years to your life expectancy. That’s 104 weeks. 730 days. 17,520 hours. Those are a whole lot of hours that you could be spending doing awesome activities like playing sports with friends, hiking to beautiful vistas, swimming at breathtaking beaches or doing whatever it is that you like best. Pretty trippy.
The big take-away? Less sitting = longer life + better health. What more do we need as motivation to get up and move?