Is Too A lot Sitting Unhealthy for Your Well being?


Caught at your desk all day? Sitting an excessive amount of can increase your danger for a wide range of ailments and have an effect on your psychological well being — however taking quick, frequent breaks will help.

The human physique is constructed for motion. The traditional Greeks and Romans acknowledged the significance of bodily exercise for correct well being, and trendy drugs has confirmed the hyperlinks between common train and illness prevention.

However it wasn’t till comparatively just lately that sitting and different sedentary behaviors emerged as threats to public well being.

So-called “sitting ailments,” that are well being points linked to sitting and inactivity, are actually a significant space of analysis. And there’s ample proof that spending an excessive amount of of your time immobile — even in the event you train commonly — raises your dangers for heart problems, sort 2 diabetes, and untimely dying, in accordance with an editorial revealed in 2022 in BMJ. There’s additionally proof that it raises your danger for psychological well being circumstances reminiscent of despair, in accordance with a cohort examine revealed in January 2023 within the Journal of Affective Issues.

“Our evolution and genetic make-up dictate that people are made to maneuver,” says Emmanuel Stamatakis, PhD, professor of bodily exercise, life-style, and inhabitants well being on the College of Sydney in Australia. “Whereas sitting immobile, our our bodies and minds degenerate and age shortly, resulting in persistent illness and untimely dying.”

Dr. Stamatakis has pushed for public well being authorities to difficulty formal warnings and tips concerning the dangers of an excessive amount of sedentary time. Many different researchers within the subject have completed the identical, in accordance with a evaluate revealed in 2019 within the British Journal of Sports activities Drugs.

Additionally worrisome: Stamatakis says among the newer findings recommend that whereas sitting is dangerous, standing in a single place (for instance, at a stand-up desk) and different types of inactivity will not be all that a lot more healthy.

“Motion is the important thing,” he says. “Standing will be part of a wholesome exercise sample however, by itself, it’s unlikely to result in substantial advantages and can’t enhance health.”

The Claims About Too A lot Sitting

The speculation right here is simple. Your physique is constructed for motion, and spending an excessive amount of time not shifting may cause a variety of detrimental well being results. That appears to be true even in the event you’re exercising commonly.

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“The dangerous results of inactivity appear to be separate from the nice results of train,” says Edward Coyle, PhD, a professor and director of the Human Efficiency Laboratory on the College of Texas at Austin. “Even in the event you meet the present tips for train, in the event you in any other case sit all day lengthy, you continue to appear to be at elevated danger for coronary heart illness and dying.” Present tips advocate that adults get no less than 150 to 300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity cardio bodily exercise, in accordance with the Workplace of Illness Prevention and Well being Promotion.

Dr. Coyle says train continues to be completely obligatory and wholesome. However simply as train gained’t defend you from the harms of smoking, it can also’t wholly offset the dangers of spending all of your nonexercise time sitting or in different sedentary behaviors.

“‘Sitting is the brand new smoking’ was a preferred saying for some time,” he factors out. “I believe there’s some validity to that,” he provides, including that smoking is sort of actually extra harmful than sitting.

What the Science Says About Too A lot Sitting and Well being

There’s a “dose-dependent” relationship between sitting time and danger for heart problems, most cancers, and mortality, in accordance with a analysis evaluate revealed in 2019 in The Journal of Diet, Well being, and Ageing. In different phrases, the extra time an individual spends sitting, the extra their dangers for these sitting ailments go up.

No matter bodily exercise ranges, an excessive amount of sitting is related to an elevated danger for coronary heart illness, in accordance with previous analysis.

And research have proven that sedentary behaviors are related to an elevated danger for signs of hysteria and despair, in accordance with a cross-sectional examine revealed in April 2020 in Preventive Drugs.

Why are sitting and different sedentary behaviors so dangerous? “We don’t know the precise mechanism at a physiological or molecular degree, however plainly one thing is generated with extended inactivity and sitting that impacts a variety of the physique’s methods,” says Coyle.

For a examine revealed in 2022 within the journal Train and Sport Science Evaluations, Coyle and his coauthors discovered {that a} one-hour bout of sitting interfered with the type of fats breakdown that usually happens following train.

He says lots of his work has targeted on the connection between sitting and fats metabolism. “Fats metabolism is quickly attentive to each inactivity and train, so we’re utilizing it type of just like the canary within the mine,” he says. “For those who’re inactive, you’ve got impaired fats oxidation and likewise diminished clearing of triglycerides from the blood after consuming.”

The precise relationship between sedentary behaviors and psychological well being issues reminiscent of nervousness and despair additionally stays unclear. However there’s a sturdy relationship between psychological and bodily well being, in accordance with a examine revealed in 2019 in Views in Psychiatric Care. If sitting is dangerous for the physique, it is smart that it might additionally negatively have an effect on an individual’s thoughts.

How Can You Make Positive You are Not Sitting Too A lot?

Coyle says the full period of time you spend sitting appears to matter lower than how usually you break up lengthy bouts of chair time with intervals of exercise.

In one among his research, revealed in 2020 in Drugs and Science in Sports activities and Train, he and his coauthors had individuals sit for eight hours at a stretch. Nevertheless, among the individuals bought up 5 occasions every hour to interact in very quick bouts of vigorous train — particularly, a four-second dash on a stationary train bike.

Whereas the full quantity of train for the whole eight-hour interval was simply 160 seconds, the individuals who bought up for the four-second breaks burned considerably extra fats and cleared triglycerides extra successfully the subsequent day, his examine discovered.

“Brief, frequent breaks from sitting appear to be very useful,” he says.

Sadly, standing up doesn’t appear to be significantly better than sitting in the event you’re not shifting round.

One other of Coyle’s research, a paper revealed in 2021 in PLoS One discovered little distinction between individuals who stood for six hours and people who sat for six hours. Nevertheless, that very same examine discovered that getting up and going for a two-minute stroll each half-hour appeared to offset the dangers of sitting.

Stamatakis echoes many of those suggestions. “Break up extended sitting each 20 or half-hour,” he advises.

A few of his work, revealed in Nature Drugs in December 2022, used wearable exercise trackers to indicate that even quick (one to 2 minute) bouts of exercise, reminiscent of climbing stairs or strolling shortly, appeared to offset lots of the well being dangers related to lengthy bouts of sedentary time. 

Lastly, each Coyle and Stamatakis say that train continues to be essential.

“The healthiest factor to do is to be energetic all through the day, after which additionally train on prime of that,” Coyle says. “So it’s avoiding sedentary habits to forestall the dangerous from occurring, and likewise exercising to achieve the nice.”

The Backside Line

Trendy life makes it fairly straightforward to spend a lot of the day sitting down. However the newest analysis, to not point out frequent sense, means that our our bodies weren’t designed for a lot inactivity.

Whereas it took a while for medical scientists to catch as much as our altering patterns of habits, it appears clear that sitting and different sedentary pursuits are a danger to our well being. Fortuitously, the antidote to this appears pretty easy and painless: Break up lengthy stretches of sitting with frequent motion breaks.

Motion — at any depth and as usually as attainable — is the purpose,” Stamatakis says.

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