Stand Up Against the Dangers of “Sitting Disease”

Right now you’re likely doing one of the worst possible things for your health: Sitting.

Dr. James Levine, obesity expert and professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, warns, “Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.”

Experts have classified sitting for more than eight hours a day as “excessive.”

But for those who work desk jobs, clocking eight hours of sitting time isn’t hard to do. In fact, nearly one in four Americans sit for more than eight hours per day. And studies show that on average, most Americans sit for 11 hours a day.

As you can see in the graph below, the U.S. ranks as one of the least physically active countries in the world.

That’s not too surprising considering the number of sedentary jobs in the workforce has increased by 83 percent since 1950.

Unfortunately, all this sedentary time increases your risk for a slew of health issues that many medical professionals refer to as “sitting disease.”

Sitting too much does some serious damage

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), sitting disease is a contributing factor to:

  • 22 percent of colon cancer cases
  • 22 percent of heart disease cases
  • 12 percent of diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure) cases
  • 6 percent of deaths globally

Sitting disease also skyrockets your risk for:

  • Alzheimer’s disease by a whopping 1,200 percent (nearly just as much as those with genetic predispositions)
  • Cardiovascular disease by 147 percent
  • Diabetes by 112 percent
  • Certain cancers by up to 66 percent
  • Depression by 47 percent

And just as startling are the results from a 2010 study that found that a sedentary lifestyle can increase risk of premature death by 71 percent.

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Get up, stand up

I know these statistics are a bit jarring, but I’ve found from personal experience that awareness can be just the motivational tool you need to take action.

The best part is, increasing your physical activity doesn’t have to be difficult. You don’t have to completely overhaul your life or regular routine.

In fact, according to a 2015 study, it can be as easy as standing up for two minutes each waking hour. Researchers found that this simple intervention can reduce the risk of premature death by 33 percent.

Now imagine what it would look like if you challenged yourself to five minutes per hour.

In one week’s time you will have:

  • Logged at least 160 minutes of light activity
  • Burned an extra 1,000 calories (that’s 4,000 per month!)
  • Lowered your risk of early mortality and chronic disease

Plus, research shows that standing regularly each day offers an array of undeniable benefits like:

  • Faster metabolism
  • Improved posture
  • Increased blood flow
  • More muscle tone

By simply standing up more often, you’re adding more years to your life.

But if you really want to take those extra years from “good” to “great,” I highly recommend adding walking to your daily routine.

A walking routine you can look forward to

Personally, I’ve found that taking a daily walk has been an effective strategy to help me stay moving and avoid the effects of sitting disease.

I try to walk for at least 20 minutes a day, in addition to spurts of standing and moving my body.

With all of this in mind, here are my go-to tips to help you stay active:

  • Invest in high-quality walking or running shoes. I’ve found that well-made, supportive shoes make a huge difference in reducing foot and body pain. I love my Hoka running shoes (and no, I don’t get paid to say that!)
  • Track your steps. There are plenty of free mobile apps out there. (I use Pacer.) This is a great motivational tool—especially if you challenge others to a friendly step competition! I also love the feeling of accomplishment after looking back at all the steps I’ve taken from week-to-week and month-to-month.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you can. This will help with cardio and muscle strength.
  • Park farther away. While out running errands, park in a parking spot that’s not right in front of the store. An easy way to sneak in some extra steps!
  • Walk while you talk. I lace up my shoes and head out the door as soon as I make or receive a phone call. This helps me squeeze in anywhere from a 20-minute to 60-minute walk without even thinking about it! I also recommend investing in a good pair of headphones to make your walks hand-free.
  • Try a power-walk. To burn more calories, walk at a faster pace. For an added challenge, choose a hilly path or go hiking in your local state park. I recommend using music to help amp up your energy and keep a good pace.
  • Use your walk to help you decompress. After a particularly stressful day, I enjoy a slow, walking meditation. This also allows me to practice mindfulness and take slow, deep breaths. These never fail to calm me down and lift my mood. (To learn more, check out my entire suite of sound healing methods and courses.)

Whatever you choose to do, it’s well worth the effort to incorporate more movement into your day.

Not only will you be amazed at how much better you feel, but you’ll rest easier knowing that every step you take is one toward better health.


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