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Sitting is the New Smoking

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Sitting is the new smoking. It’s a glib phrase, but when you look at the health effects of sitting all day, an almost inescapable way of modern living, you’ll start to get really worried.

The last few years has seen numerous studies exploring what sitting for more than six hours every day is doing to our bodies, and the results are unanimous in their conclusions – we need to stand, walk, skip and jog more.

Here are just some of the scary facts:

A 2010 study found that the risk of heart disease is increased by 64%. A study of bus drivers from the 1950s noted that people in this ‘new’ profession were more likely to develop heart conditions over time than other worker.

Danish researchers estimate that life expectancy can be reduced by up to seven years if you sit for more than six hours every day for over ten years. Nice cushy desk jobs can actually shave years off your life.

You are more at risk of developing certain types of cancer.

Sitting down all day slows the metabolism so you’re not regulating blood sugar or breaking down fat in the way the body is supposed to, leading to an increased risk of developing diabetes, obesity and being overweight. This happens because just after you sit down the electrical activity in your muscles slows down so much, that in some cases you’re only burning one calorie a minute.

So how can you help tackle these terrifying effects? By never sitting down again. But seriously, make more excuses to walk around the office. That lunchtime walk you promise to yourself every January? Make it happen everyday. Be the person who always offers to make the tea or grab the photocopying. Instead of collapsing in front of a television every evening book in a gentle exercise class – we’re all about Pilates these days. If you’re on the road a lot stretch those limbs when you can grab a few minutes.

The sedentary lifestyle might mean we’re more clued in than ever before to what is happening in the world via social media, but it’s not doing humankind any favours. If you have to be at your desk for long periods try standing, or even a treadmill desk. Some companies are investing in special desks for workers to type and stand in a bid to improve their employees’ health, and Irish writer Emma Donoghue wrote her most recent novel, Frog Music, on a treadmill.

If a Booker-shortlisted writer can’t inspire you to get up out of your seat, maybe this stark infographic we found over on MindBodyGreen.com might give you the fright you need.

 

Follow Jeanne Sutton on Twitter @jeannedesutun

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