How long do you sit? Let’s do some math, shall we? Maybe 2 hours are spent watching your favorite TV show, about 4 hours for work, then 3 hours for meals. Let’s not forget the times that you’re forced to sit like catching a movie, waiting for your turn in the DMV, driving your car, etc. Perhaps about 37% of your time every day is dedicated to doing only one thing: sitting.
You do need to sit. It’s a good way of resting your body and helping yourself recover from too much exercise or any physical activity. But as human beings, you’re not supposed to sit most of the time. In fact, sitting should make up only 12% or less of your daily activity. Otherwise, chronic sitting means killing yourself.
This is not a joke.
Prolonged chronic sitting is extremely harmful for the body, and worse, the effects remain even if you exercise:
• Sitting for more than 6 hours a day can increase your chances of dying within the next 15 years to 40%.
• Couch potatoes who spend 3 hours watching television increase their risk of heart disease by 64%, and every hour after that, you boost that risk by 11%.
A team of researchers from Toronto have recently looked into more than 45 studies about death and sedentary lifestyle and found out those who spend a lot of time sitting are 24% more likely to die early even if they exercise and are 90% at risk of type 2 diabetes.
The question now is, how can extreme sitting kill you?
The answer is obesity. Obesity is a medical condition characterized by having an excessive amount of fat in the body. While not all types of body fat are really harmful, many people develop central obesity (belly fat). This is dangerous since it can surely alter the way your body produces and regulates hormones and metabolism. Since the fat develops in the abdominal cavity, it puts pressure on your vital organs such as the liver, stomach, and pancreas.
Based on the infographic prepared by MedicalBillingandCoding.org, from 1980 to 2000, the level of physical activity remained the same but sitting time increased by 8%. Obesity, meanwhile, doubled.
The effects of sitting also begin as soon as your butt touches the seat:
During the first hour, your body goes into a complete slowdown. Think of yourself as a dynamic factory that, once you sit, it is reduced to its least potential. Fat breakdown drops to 90%, which means you burn less calories per minute.
An hour after, the level of good cholesterol goes down by 20%. Within a day, insulin falls by more than 20%. Since there’s a significant amount of glucose in the blood, you become at risk of diabetes.
Fortunately, it’s easy not to become a statistic. Allot only 3 hours for prolonged sitting. If you can’t do that, then at least combine 30 minutes of regular exercise with more physical activities in between sitting. Simply standing for an hour already burns 50 calories, even if you’re hardly doing anything else.