Are You Sitting Your Way To An Early Death?

Sitting for long hours can increase your risk of an early death

Even if you exercise once a day, new research indicates that you need to get off your behind. More specifically, it turns out sitting too long increases your risk of an early death.

The study just published in the Archives of Internal Medicine1 demonstrated that adults who sat for eleven hours or more a day increased their risk of dying by 40% over those who sat for less than four hours a day.

The researchers accounted for confounding variables like weight, health status and even overall physical activity. It was the amount of sitting that mattered.

As I am sitting here writing this, I am wondering how much damage to myself I have already done. It seems like our culture is designed for sitting.

And just so you know, this wasn’t a small study; more than 200,000 subjects were involved and followed for a long period of time.

So What Is It About Sitting That Might Be Causing This?

According to the study authors, the negative effects of sitting are caused by disrupted metabolic functions – leading to vascular health issues.

Extended sitters showed higher plasma triglyceride levels, lower levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (the good cholesterol), and reduced insulin sensitivity.

Not good at all… these are all serious negative health indicators.

What To Do With This Information

A 30 minute exercise program did lower the mortality risk of the extended sitters as compared to completely sedentary subjects, but again did not completely make up for the extended sitting periods.

More fascinating is that a 2008 study2 revealed that people who take small breaks (as little as standing up and taking one step) throughout the day were able to reduce the size of their waists and improve other vital signs over people who did not take these small steps.

So it is clear that one should incorporate movement throughout the day, but the question is how (especially if you are chained to your desk).

Because I am no expert in this matter, I did some digging and found a great book by Dr. Toni Yancey, co-director of the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Dr. Yancey has been “anti-sitting” before it became fashionable.

Doctor Yancy’s Advice

Taking time during your day to stand up and move around decreases your risk

In her book, Instant Recess: Building a Fit Nation 10 Minutes at a Time, Dr. Yancy provides this advice:

  • Schedule 10-minute activity breaks every day.
  • Park farther away from any place you may go
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Create an environment which forces you to get up, like putting the printer in another room.
  • Replace desk chairs with stability balls
  • Fidget, stand up and stretch at intervals during meetings.

I also recommend getting a headset for your phone and stand up and walk around while on phone calls.

This might not sound like much, but the 2008 study2 I referred to earlier demonstrates pretty remarkable results. Even “mini-breaks” like standing up and wiggling around for a minute at a time can help lower blood sugar, triglycerides, bad cholesterol and waist size.

So get moving! And please share you mini break strategies for health below.

Steve Sisskind, M.D.

Hi, I'm Dr. Steve Sisskind, Chief Medical Officer & Founder at RealDose Nutrition.

As a young physician, I struggled because my patients came to me with serious health issues, but I didn't have the right tools to help them. Medical school taught me how to put "band aids" on their symptoms with drugs and surgery, but not how to address the root causes of their problems.

Years later I discovered a better approach... based on the fundamental idea that the power of nutrition can transform your health and vitality. But there's a lot of confusion... What foods should I eat? Which supplements should I take? What does the science say?

I have dedicated my life to answering these questions... And I share this knowledge with you every day here at RealDose Nutrition.

I invite you to connect with me by joining my free private community. I've helped thousands of people and I know I can help you too!

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References:1. Hidde P. van der Ploeg, PhD; Tien Chey, MAppStats; Rosemary J. Korda, PhD; Emily Banks, MBBS, PhD; Adrian Bauman, MBBS, PhD., Sitting Time and All-Cause Mortality Risk in 222 497 Australian Adults, Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(6):494-

2. Healy GN, Dunstan DW, Salmon J, Cerin E, Shaw JE, Zimmet PZ, Owen N., Breaks in sedentary time: beneficial associations with metabolic risk, Diabetes Care 2008 Apr;31(4):661-6.

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  1. Hello,
    Hi Dr Steve this is Janet Neilson here, yes I do not alot and watch TV from morning to night.
    I do get up during the ads and then sit down again and I just don’t have the energy to do anything but watch TV all day.
    Dr.Steve what can I do to get my energy back?
    Thank you, Janet Neilson

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Janet,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! There are a number of things you can do to increase your energy levels. Changing your diet to include more dietary fiber in the form of vegetables and cutting back on carbohydrates will surely do that. You can also steer clear of junk food, if you tend to binge eat and watch TV. Lastly, I suggest that you go for longer walks when you can. try walking around the room a few times while watching TV. Soon, you will notice your strength slowly come back and you are able to move around for a longer period of time. Hope this gets you off to a good start! Make it a healthy day!

  2. Loved your tips today and the recipe God Bless

  3. I’m applying for Medical Retirement from Feds. I wish someone would spread this throughout the Military Treatment facilities. I was injured in military & worked for the VA Medical Center as DAV & now adept. Of Defense. Sitting is causing serious exacerbation of my military injuries. I’m being harassed because of my physical state of DDD, elevated HTN & digestive issues all from sitting. These agencies who are supposed to promote health need a serious wake up call. They are killing their employees. I’m in process of medically retiring, applied for my VA 100% Disability & having Correction to Military Records to go back 25 years for Medical Retirement. due to injustice & military injury suffered.. Please refer this article to ALL government agencies.

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Roxan,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your thoughts with us! I am deeply sorry to learn of your difficulties and do hope they reach the proper channels. I shall be praying for your good health and if you have any questions or concerns about health, I am here for your. Make it a healthy day!

  4. I guess I’m kind of a lucky one. I can’ do barely any exercises(Dr’s orders) but I have adult ADHD and cannot sit still so I am constantly up and down. Bad side I have a hard time staying asleep because I toss and turn alot at night so I don’t get as much sleep as I should be still exercising in me sleep.

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Cheryl,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! I completely understand what you mean as I too have had a few restless nights. When I really need to sleep, and find it hard, a few deep breaths or meditation helps my mind slow down in preparation for bed time. I understand exercising may be a challenge for you but I do suggest doing other easy chores to help expel your energy. It may be something as simple as folding that extra load of laundry, light dusting around the home or an extra lap around the block. Lastly, i am posting an article I wrote about the lack of sleep below and do hope you enjoy the read. Make it a healthy day!

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