It seems a common-sense deduction that too much sitting causes obesity. But now we have reliable science to that back-up. Science also shows that too much sitting increases the risks for metabolic syndrome (aka belly fat) and diabetes type 2.
Both metabolic syndrome and diabetes type 2 are obesity-related illnesses. So it is obvious that too much sitting is detrimental to weight control. What may not be so obvious is that this is true even for those who’ve had bariatric surgery. See bariatric RD Elizabeth’s article, “Weight Control: What Successful Losers Do.”
Do you have a desk-job or for other reasons do too much sitting? If so, here are some shocking reasons why you need to stand up. Plus, we’ll share some of the easiest ways to reduce your sitting down time.
How Much Are We Sitting?
It’s a sad fact that the majority of working Americans lead very sedentary lives. Ours is a country in which 220 million adults average an hour and a half a day in our cars, according to ABC News.
Generally, we are going to and from jobs where we are chained to our desks. For the most part we sit at computer screens for eight-hours a day. Then, after all that sitting, we sit for an additional 34-hours each week in front of the TV. Or at the computer again – this time for “pleasure.” Or on our mobile devices.
“…we spend about 85-hours per week sitting”
The bottom line is, we aren’t up and about. A quick tally of the above data show we spend about 85-hours per week sitting! And the massive obesity epidemic persists.
Some say that too much sitting is killing us. Check out this article on “sitting disease” by Robert Borne, a retired addictions counselor.
Is Too Much Sitting Killing Us?
No doubt too much sitting causes obesity. But how bad is too much sitting, really?
NBC News presents evidence that sitting too much can kill us. And people who sat the most were more likely to die from 14 different diseases. That’s the finding of a 2018 survey from the American Cancer Society.
In the American Journal of Public Health, researchers from Canada, the US and Australia say research suggests excessive sitting (roughly more than eight hours a day) increases the risk of premature death and some chronic diseases by 10-20%.
An analysis published in the British Medical Journal suggests that the life expectancy of the entire U.S. population could increase. That’s if Americans simply reduce the amount of time we spend sitting.
Don’t Take This Sitting Down
The researchers calculated that limiting the time Americans spend sitting to three hours or fewer each day would increase the life expectancy of the U.S. population by 2 years.
Cutting down TV watching to fewer than two hours each day would bump life expectancy up by another 1.4 years.
“Newer recommendations are to stand up for 15-minutes of every hour.”
Industry continues to research the harmful health effects stemming from sedentary lifestyles. And many say that technology is only adding fuel to the fire.
But if sitting is killing us, can we turn the tide and use technology to save us?
Technologies like the Polar A370 Fitness Tracker can get us on our feet.
Regularly Interrupt Sitting
The healthiest workplace most likely is one where employees are actively mobile. That’s barring hazardous job conditions, of course. But for most of us, sitting for 8-hours a day at our jobs is inevitable. Therefore we must interrupt our sitting whenever we can.
And if sitting too much causes obesity then hitting the gym 3x a week is not the total solution to weight control. In fact, a population health study finds sitting too much can compromise metabolic health even when people meet physical activity guidelines.
Therefore we must engineer our lives to be less sedentary. As examples: Use a standing desk at home or work. Walk to your colleague’s desk instead of using the phone or email. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Do you know walking burns 3-5x more calories than sitting does?
In Australia, there are specific recommendations for how much we should stand and how to do it. It is the first country to have such guidelines, according to CNN Health.
In Colombia, government computers have software that pause the machines, forcing employees to take a break.
There’s an App for That
Newer recommendations are to stand up for 15-minutes of every hour. And there are apps that will help us do just that!
Computer and mobile applications, wearable fitness trackers and watches guide us through small scheduled exercise breaks. So by the end of the work day we can complete as much as 45-minutes of exercise.
Some of the best wearables for 2019 are the Apple Watch Series 4, FitBit Iconic., and the Polar A370 (which I own). And free computer apps track activity like the Map My Fitness on Google Play. Or get it for the iPhone or AppleWatch on Apple AppStore. For even more options, read our review of the Best Weight Loss Fitness Trackers.
Alan Hedge, professor of ergonomics at Cornell University, recommends sitting 20 minutes out of every half hour at work, standing for eight minutes, and moving around for at least two minutes. You can try to stick to this 20-8-2 breakdown by setting the alarm on your phone, using a timer app on your computer or relying on an old fashioned egg timer.
Too Much Sitting Causes Obesity
Now that you know too much sitting causes obesity, and what to do about it, what are you going to do? Think about it. How many hours per day do you spend sitting?
So make a habit to interrupt sitting at regular intervals throughout the day. Non-sitting time adds up! And your waist line will reap the rewards.
And while getting up and moving is easy, be sure you are fit for exercise. If you have physical limitations then see a fitness professional for specific guidance.
Living larger than ever,
My Bariatric Life