What’s killed more people than HIV, is more hazardous than parachuting, and more dangerous to your health than smoking? According to one well-respected Mayo Clinic expert, you could be doing it right now.
We’re talking about sitting. Dr. James Levine, professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic coined the phrase “sitting is the new smoking” due to the numerous health issues, including potentially deadly problems like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, that have been linked to sitting down too long, and he’s not the only medical expert who shares this growing belief. Dr. Joan Vernikos, former director of the Life Sciences division at NASA, wrote a book titled Sitting Kills, Moving Heals and says that “we weren’t designed to sit” and that “the body is a perpetual motion machine”. We could go on and on quoting medical experts on the dangers of sitting too long but we think you would be more convinced by cold, hard stats. Take a look at just a few facts and statistics we found on StartStanding.org, a website dedicated to bringing attention to the dangers of sitting too long.
- Certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and back pain have all been linked to sitting too long. The good news is, you can reduce your risk of all of these conditions simply by putting your body into motion more often.
- Breast and colon cancers are the two cancers most commonly linked to inactivity, with a combined 173,000 cases in the U.S. believed to caused by sitting, according to Dr. Christine Friedenreich, an epidemiologist at Alberta Health Care Services-Cancer Care. Lung, prostate, endometrial, and ovarian cancer are also believed to be connected to prolonged inactivity.
- A study conducted by Dr. Levine in which a group of non-exercising office workers was placed on a 1,000 calories a day diet and asked not to make any changes to their exercise routine. Some lost weight while others gained, and those who lost weight were found to have been active an average of 2.25 hours more per day than those who gained weight.
- StartStanding.org stated in an article titled Sitting is the New Smoking that we burn 50 calories more per hour just by standing. Standing for three hours a day, five days a week burns a total of 750 calories, which adds up to around 30,000 calories burned in an entire year. That’s around 9 pounds.
- Sitting too long increases your triglycerides count, which is associated with an increased risk for diabetes.
- Studies have shown that sitting has a greater effect on your waistline than an exercise routine. In fact, an hour or so of exercise does not negate the effects of sitting down for hours on end every day. In one study, men who were known to walk a lot were asked to cut the estimated amount of daily steps they took from around 10,000 steps per day down to just over 1300 steps. After just two weeks, all of the men in the study group had increased waistlines around their midsection and their abilities to metabolize sugar and fat had worsened.
- More than four hours of screen time each day increases your risk of death by 50%.
- Excessive screen time also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease by a whopping 125%.
- People who sit more than 11 hours per day have a 40% higher risk of dying in the next three years than those who move more often.
The information from these statistics is staggering. If it’s not enough to get you moving or if you simply want to learn more about the consequences of prolonged inactivity, check out this excellent article from StartStanding.org.