Is Sitting All Day Bad for the Health?

Many people believe that it is smarter to be doing things sitting down rather than standing. They argue that if you can do a job or chores in the comfort of your chair, why would you inconvenience yourself doing the same work in a standing position? If you are one of them, think again.


Numerous studies have shown that sitting for a prolonged period of time is bad for your health. It is a risk factor for ill health as smoking and drinking alcohol are.


In a study done in 1950’s, it was known that the group of London bus drivers was more likely to die from heart attack compared to their bus conductor colleagues. There was a clear correlation established between the high death rates among drivers and the long time they spent sitting. The results from this study triggered more researches on the effects of sitting too long to people’s health, all confirming what had been discovered earlier – that too much sitting is bad for the health.


The Bad Effects of Sitting Too Long


The practice of sitting excessively even while doing other activities like watching TV, working on your computer or desk and driving is what we call sedentary behavior.


Researchers believe that when you are seated continuously for a long period of time, the normal metabolism of your body is significantly slowed down. This abnormal mode in your body’s metabolism affects your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure and break down body fat and causes weaker muscles and bones. These studies suggested the link between excessive sitting to being overweight or obese, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and even premature death.


A study was conducted comparing adult individuals who spent less than two hours per day sitting in front of TV or game monitors and those who sat for more than four hours to watch TV or play electronic games. It was determined that those who spent longer time sitting had:


  • Almost 50% increased risk of death from any cause
  • About 125% increased risk of conditions associated with cardiovascular diseases, like heart attack or chest pain


On the strength of evidences on the bad effects of sedentary lifestyle to people’s health, the UK government in 2011 issued official health guidelines recommending minimizing sitting for different age groups.


Although it is not clearly defined how long too much sitting is, some countries like the US, Australia and Finland have nevertheless come up with recommendations for children on how how long they should sit, which is one or two hours a day, typically.


From further studies done on this area, it was also confirmed that sitting excessively is an independent risk factor in ill health, and even doing regular exercise will not offset its degenerative effects on your body.


Avoid Sitting for Long Periods of Time


Less sitting and more moving is the key to avoid problems caused by sitting for prolonged periods. Take advantage of opportunities when you can stand rather than sit, when at work or home. Break up sitting time in smaller periods. Do not just “sit back and relax” on your spare time.  Keep yourself busy and active.


Sitting for extended periods of time is harmful. Be conscious of its adverse effects to your health. Make it a habit to avoid sitting for a long time. Be on the move always to engage the muscles and bones and for normal metabolism for your own health benefits.