Your Body Needs Movement
Brainstorm for a minute – how often are you sitting during your average day? Do you sit during meals? Does your job require seated work, and are you sitting down while enjoying your free time? A study in 2019 concluded that from 2007-2016, the average middle-aged American was sitting on average for over six hours a day. This number is thought to be continually increasing as the years go by due to a rise in computer use. You might wonder, “But is sitting really that bad for me?” A recent study suggests that sitting for long periods increases your likelihood of cancer and other forms of death.
This new study analyzed the sitting habits of adults ages 40-79 who were living in the UK. The participants wore accelerometers (step counters) to track their sitting habits. Investigators were especially interested in timeframes where the participants sat for 30 minutes or longer. During the follow-up time of about six years, the investigators recorded the number of deaths, the number of cardiovascular events, and the number of cancer diagnoses in the participant pool. Ultimately, researchers saw that people who had more periods of sitting for longer than 30 minutes in their day were at a higher risk of death or being diagnosed with cancer.
Maybe even more interesting was the suggestion that breaking up sitting habits might be the best way to counteract the risks sitting poses. Risk seemed to be increased by more prolonged bouts of sitting. Researchers suggested that people did not necessarily need to alter the time they sat in a day. Instead, people need to sit for shorter periods with intervals of movement. For example, instead of working for two hours straight and then standing up and walking around for a while, try standing and moving around at the 30-minute mark of sitting. Then, get back to work.
Today, many watches and other accelerometer devices can be set to remind you to move at certain time intervals, and research suggests this type of reminder could benefit your health. Other than setting device reminders, take a moment and inventory the times you sit in a day. How long are you sitting still, and how could you incorporate more movement into your day? If you’ve had a long day of sitting at work, could you prioritize leisure activities that don’t require sitting?
Sitting for long periods is correlated with more death and cancer. But moving around more frequently is one of the easiest health solutions around. Stand up for health today by incorporating ways to sit less in your routine.