Your body is the vehicle in which you move through the world, and it was designed to do just that: move. Unfortunately, our modern lifestyle has evolved to the point that most of us move very little, and spend most of our time sitting. Now scientists have proven than sitting more than three hours a day actually shortens life expectancy. If you want to live a long life, you have to keep moving.
According to research published in 5he American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 3.8 percent of deaths from all causes are associated with sitting more than three hours a day. Unfortunately, more than 60 percent of people around the globe now spend more than three hours daily sitting. The researchers explained:
Assuming that the effect of sitting time on all-cause mortality risk is independent of physical activity, reducing sitting time plays an important role in active lifestyle promotion, which is an important aspect of premature mortality prevention worldwide.
Even small changes in your routine can benefit your health. For example, the study found that reducing sitting time by 50 percent would result in a 2.3 drop in all-cause mortality, based on a mean sitting time of 4.7 hours daily. Lead researcher, Leandro Rezende, of the department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Sao Paulo School of Medicine, wrote,
It was observed that even modest reductions, such as a 10 percent reduction in the mean sitting time or a 30-minute absolute decrease of sitting time per day, could have an instant impact in all-cause mortality in the 54 evaluated countries…[W]hereas bolder changes (for instance, 50 percent decrease or two hours fewer) would represent at least three times fewer deaths versus the 10 percent or 30-minute reduction scenarios.
These findings have sparked international interest. Australia has adopted sedentary behavior guidelines as well as physical activity guidelines. The Australian government suggests minimizing the time spent in prolonged sitting, and breaking up long periods of sitting whenever possible. In Colombia, government computers actually pause automatically to encourage employees to take active breaks. And The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for earth death throughout the world.
A sedentary lifestyle has also been linked to a number of chronic disease. A meta-analysis of 42 different research studies found sitting for 8 hours or more a day is associated with a number of health risks:
Cardiovascular disease mortality
Type 2 diabetes
This was found to be true even when the participants spent time exercising. Sitting seems to pose its own risk, independent of any time spent in active exercise.
So if you are living a sedentary life, like most people these days, how do you go about changing it?
A study in the journal Health Psychology Review examined 38 different behavioral interventions, and found that 23 of them are effective in altering “low-energy expending waking behavior while seated or lying down.” The most effective techniques were:
Access to a sit-stand desk at work (which can reduce sitting time by 8 hours per week)
Keeping track of how long you have spent sitting
Setting goals to limit your sitting time
Using reminders to stop sitting
Educating people on the health benefits of less sitting
Even leisurely movement can make a big difference. You will burn more calories, leading to weight loss and an increase in energy. Standing and other movement requires muscle movement that apparently triggers important processed related to the breakdown in the body of fats and sugars.
Based on all this new research, it seems clear that for most people, making this one simple change can position us for a longer, healthier life. So stand up and move!