Even with Regular Exercise, Sitting Too Long May Kill You

Think your health is good, even though you have a desk job, because you exercise? Well maybe not. Recent research spotlights the dangers of sitting for prolonged periods of time, placing those people  in an at-risk category, even those who exercise regularly. The latest research suggests just how much sitting it takes to negatively affect your health. Everyone with a desk job...listen up!

Researchers found that every hour of sitting increases your coronary artery calcification burden by 14 percent. This calcification – a marker of heart disease that can increase heart attack risk – shows how much calcium the plaques within the arteries of the heart contain. Over time, these plaques accumulate, causing the arteries to narrow, eventually leading to coronary artery disease. So simply sitting a few more hours can produce a great deal of heart problems. 

Recently in the Annuals of Internal Medicine, a couple of articles show the gravity of the situation. What they revealed was quite shocking. With data pooled from 41 primary research studies, researchers found that long periods of sitting time were positively correlated with all-cause mortality and other outcomes, after adjustment for levels of physical activity, compared with study participants reporting relatively little sitting time:

  1. All-cause mortality (hazard ratio 1.240, 95%)

  2. Cardiovascular disease mortality (HR 1.179, 95%)

  3. Cardiovascular disease incidence (HR 1.143, 95%)

  4. Cancer mortality (HR 1.173, 95% )

  5. Cancer incidence (HR 1.130 95%)

  6. Type 2 diabetes incidence (HR 1.910, 95%)

However, all hope is not lost. Reducing the time you spend sitting can increase your life. As it was reported at Medpage Today, "Limiting time watching television to less than 2 hours a day added 1.38 years of life, and cutting total sitting time to less than 3 hours a day increased life expectancy by 2 full years, Peter Katzmarzyk, PhD, of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, and I-Min Lee, MD, of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, reported online in BMJ Open." So just trying to find ways to not sit so much can increase you life. 

Below are some tips on how to reduce the amount of time that you are sitting, while increasing your physical activity: 

  • Park further away from the office
  • Take the long way to the water cooler or bathroom using stairs if possible
  • Ditch the chairs for your team meetings
  • Take a 20-minute lunch break and walk around the neighborhood.
  • Take a 5 to 10 minute walk around the block for a cup of coffee.
  • Stand or pace for another 5-minute phone call.

For some more information about the types of activities that are recommended, please visit the CDC article 'How much physical activity do adults need?'There is some really good info located there, but as always, speak to your physician before beginning any exercise routine. Stay healthy everyone!

Dr. John F. Bracey, is a practicing chiropractic physician. He has been involved in the development of several nutritional formulas for various companies and is currently the CEO of Vimanna Nutrition. He has spent time working with genetics with a leading research firm in Seoul, South Korea where they were studying the link between genetic expression and nutrition.