Sitting is the default in modern society. We sit at home. We sit at school and work. And then we sit while watching TV, playing video games, reading, hanging out with friends. In America, we are sitting all. The. Time. Even if it feels like the default position, sitting too much is actually pretty dangerous.
Yes, dangerous. Spending too much time on your butt instead of on your feet is linked to a number of different health problems. Think you do a pretty good job standing or walking around instead of sitting? Unless you’re working at a job that requires you to do so, you probably don’t.
We’re sitting A LOT
The average person isn’t spending just a few hours a day planted on a chair or sofa. According to medical publication Healthline, “…the typical officer worker may spend up to a whopping 15 hours per day sitting…agricultural workers only sit for about 3 hours a day.”
Factor in the average of 7-8 hours of sleep we need every night, some of us are spending as much as 23 hours a day being sedentary.
Sitting too much is making us sick
Maybe you notice that your butt feels a little sore or tingly after sitting for too long. But you should be far more worried about the silent health problems caused by sitting. Extended periods of inactivity are linked to:
- Strained Nerves
- Hip Problems
- Higher Risk of Cancer
- Back Pain and Bad Posture
- Heart Disease
- Premature Aging
- Chronic Fatigue
- Early Death
That’s right, sitting too much can literally kill you.
Sitting erases exercise progress
Maybe you spent months on end training for a half-marathon. Or you decided to take up lifting weights to improve your strength. Guess what can ruin all that progress? You guessed it — sitting.
The Mayo Clinic recommends that you fit in “at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week.” If you hit one or both of these goals, it is not enough to fully offset the damage of sitting for hours and hours every day.
Even a short period of inactivity can increase muscle fatigue and reverse your training progress.
How to reduce time spent sitting
It’s not enough to just know that sitting is dangerous. Without the right strategies, changing your activity levels can be really difficult. Try some of these ideas to get out of the chair and moving around:
- Use a standing desk. (I use this one.) You can improvise with a kitchen counter.
- Do 12 squats after every visit to the bathroom.
- Perform walking lunges during your kid’s sports practice or games.
- Get up and move around after every 30 minutes of sitting. Set a timer on your phone as a reminder.
- Count your steps. Maybe you don’t need 10,000 steps a day, but having a goal will encourage you to move around. If you don’t have a step counter you can use an app on your phone.
- Walk when talking on the phone. Stand up any time you’re texting.
Perform simple stretches when watching TV. When you’re done stretching, try slowly marching in place.
Using some of these strategies on top of regular exercise should help you cut down on how often you sit.
It’s not too late to change
Living a sedentary and inactive lifestyle is your normal. Maybe any other kind of lifestyle seems strange, especially if everyone around you is spending most of their days planted on their backsides, too.
Making little changes every week or two will really build up over time. Try picking just one strategy to focus on for a week and then evaluate how it went. You can stick to that one strategy for another week or add in a new one.
No matter how much you struggle with sitting too much, it’s never too late to start living a healthier lifestyle.