Sitting For Long Periods of Time Shortens Your Life Even If You Exercise, So I Hope You Can Afford a Treadmill Desk

RAMALLAH, WEST-BANK - SEPTEMBER 19: Palestinians work out at the gym on September 19, 2013 in Ramallah, West-Bank. The West Bank and Gaza Strip are inhabited by an estimated 3.33 million Palestinians who live in a region which has a long history as a crossroads for religion, culture, commerce and politics. (Photo by Ilia Yefimovic/Getty Images)
Source: Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images News/Getty Images

I try to get in at least 30 minutes of cardio everyday, since exercising is supposed to keep you healthy, right? Well it turns out that if you go from the gym to sedentary activity (like I do), this logic actually might not hold up. 

Just yesterday Annals of Internal Medicine released new research that suggests sitting for long periods of time, no matter what, increases your risk of death and is linked to negative health outcomes overall. This report was informed by 47 different studies of people engaged in sedentary activity and these were analyzed to find overall conclusions about health and was specifically controlled for those who exercise, to see how sitting for long periods of time affects one's health regardless of their other levels of physical activity. Although physical activity did lower your risk of death and disease, the hazard levels were still significant for those who were active and sedentary. In fact, being sedentary contributed to having greater health risks despite other factors that inform having bad health, meaning that it's one of the most powerful influences on our health. Considering that most Americans spend the majority of their time sitting, hardly anyone is immune from this.

Looking at specifics, those who lead sedentary lifestyles are 90 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes (this finding included people who exercise but didn't have enough manpower to decipher how exercise affects this risk specifically), are more likely to die from cancers and heart diseases, and are more likely to have certain types of cancers.

In the past year there have been quite a few studies that have also found being sedentary is one of the worst things you can be for your health. Let's look at some of the research:

  • A study released just last week found that leading a sedentary lifestyle is more deadly than obesity. Although, there is some good news; the researches at the University of Cambridge reported that getting in 20-30 minutes a day of physical activity can help to mitigate this risk (although not completely). 
  • Research out of China found that being sedentary increases your risk of depression by 25 percent. 
  • Genes are found to be a culprit of obesity, as there has been a dramatic increase in "fat" genes in the last 60 years, but researchers think this could be due to sedentary lifestyles. 
  • Leading a sedentary lifestyle leads to a greater risk of developing dementia in old age.
  • Yep, even eczema has an association with being sedentary, as those with the chronic skin condition can find exercising difficult and have a greater risk of obesity. 
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However, even though most of us can't change the fact that we're confined to a desk for a third of our work days, there are steps we can take to lessen the effects of being sedentary. Dr. David Alter, senior scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, provided some insight:

  • Take work breaks that involve moving! Take a walk around your building, go and refill your coffee-do something after every half-hour of sitting.
  • You don't have to break away from The Real Housewives or The Bachelor in order to hit the gym. Instead, try to get in some exercise while you watch (it might even be a good way to incentivize yourself to do it!).
  • Keep track of how much time you spend sitting and then try to reduce it. Maybe now you have a valid reason to blow your money on a FitBit!
  • Exercise as much as you can. Obviously not everyone can adjust their life according to what may be the healthiest for them, but getting in some cardio or strength training is certainly not going to hurt you. In this case, it's probably the best thing you can do to ward off the consequences of being sedentary. 

Images: Getty (2), Giffy (1)

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