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What is "Sitting Too Much?"

I was shocked to find out how often we should be moving. Even if you're fit, following the daily recommended amount of physical activity, and have a healthy diet you're still attributing damage to your health by sitting too much. I'm fairly active — one-hour hikes, 100 jumping jacks, and 80 high knees daily — and I still sit too much.

When we think about exercise, it's usually at a specific time during the day. Maybe you hit the gym in the mornings, in the evenings after work, or walk during your lunch break. Either way, the amount of time you spend exercising does not nearly compare to the time you spend sitting.

In this post, we'll discuss the average amount of time we sit per day, we'll try to define what sitting too much is, and a few ways you can get on the move.

How much do we really sit?

The typical U.S adult is sedentary for 60 percent or more of their waking hours and sits for an average of six and a half hours per day. If you work primarily on computers — software developer, coder, data entry specialist, call center rep.— then you probably are sitting eight hours or more a day.

When you sit back — well... you probably should walk around — and think about all the times you sit throughout the day, the hours quickly add up. We sit in the car, at work, at the computer, watching TV, reading a book, and even in waiting rooms.

Surprisingly, it's easier to think about the times we're standing. So, how much do you sit in a day?

Risks of sitting too much

I'll briefly list a few of the consequences of sitting too much, then expand about them more in a future post. Some of the risks listed in the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition include:

  1. All-cause mortality
  2. Cardiovascular disease mortality
  3. Cardiovascular disease
  4. Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Cancer of the colon, endometrium, and lung

Additionally, you may feel the symptoms of sitting too much early on, such as:

  1. Chronic fatigue
  2. Lower back pain
  3. Leg and Hip pain
  4. Weight Gain
  5. Anxiety

Even though we're required to sit in certain environments and situations... it comes at a cost. 

"There's a direct relationship between time spent sitting and your risk of early mortality of any cause, researchers said, based on a study of nearly 8,000 adults. As your total sitting time increases, so does your risk of an early death."

How much sitting is too much? 

Over 60 years of research went into creating the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which states adults need two types of physical activity each week to improve their health. Adults need at least 150 minutes a week of aerobic activity — and — at least 2 days a week of muscle strengthening.

"An analysis of 13 studies of sitting time and activity levels found that those who sat for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to the risks of dying posed by obesity and smoking."

(Mayo Clinic, what are the risks of sitting too much?)

Although, more research is needed to verify findings, sitting for more than 30 consecutive minutes at a time may be too much. A study posted in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that people who sat for less than 30 minutes at a time had the lowest risk of early death.

Shocking, right? 30 minutes! Sometimes it takes me that long to get my thoughts together.

Professor Alan Hedge of Cornell University believes the solution is a variety of movements and proper ergonomic training. Professor Hedge — Certified Professional Ergonomist —created an outline to make office computer work more dynamic by using sit-stand workstations. He suggests the following:

  • 20 minutes sitting
  • 8 minutes standing
  • 2 minutes of standing and moving — stretching, walking, or anything to get the blood circulating

 Get moving and start today

In conclusion, exercising once a day simply isn't enough to reverse the physiological changes that occur during long sitting times. The research suggests that we should break up our sitting times and move throughout the day.

Edward R. Laskowski, M.D. — co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center — suggests:

  • Take a break from sitting every 30 minutes
  • Stand while talking on the phone or watching television
  • If you work at a desk, try a standing desk
  • Walk with your colleagues for meetings rather than sitting in a conference room
  • Position your work surface above a treadmill, so that you can be in motion throughout the day.

"You might start by simply standing rather than sitting when you have the chance or finding ways to walk while you work."

Now that you have an idea of how often you should be moving throughout the day, it's time to take action for your health. It may be difficult to break up sitting time every 30 minutes, but when you can stand up and move... you should.

If you have a job or lifestyle where you have to sit for prolonged periods, finding ways to offset the risks of sitting too much is necessary. The miniTREAD® provides a solution for you to walk and work while seated with virtually the same benefits of walking on a standing treadmill.

In modern-day society sitting has become the norm. Reducing sedentary time is just as important for your health as daily exercise and a nutritious diet. Remember, even the smallest changes make a difference!

Movement Unleashes Vitality!


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