Over the past several years, evidence confirming the health risks of sitting has continued to roll in. Studies have linked sitting for prolonged periods – something we all do as we type the day away at work and relax on the couch in the evenings – with an increased risks. These risks include diabetes, heart disease, obesity, cancer and a range of musculoskeletal disorders. In fact, many experts believe sitting is a greater risk to your health than smoking. Hitting the gym is definitely good for your overall health. However doing so can’t counteract the ill effects of sitting, no matter how hard you pump it before or after work.
If that doesn’t make you sit up stand up at night worrying, a new study of over 4 million people pinpoints the exact kinds of cancer most linked to sitting. For every 2 hours of sitting, your risk of developing colon cancer rises by 8 percent. Also, your risk of developing lung cancer rises by 6 percent, and that of developing endometrial cancer rises by 10 percent. The only good news: there was no link found between sitting and prostate cancer, breast cancer, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Now, before you start panicking, it’s important to remember that there are a host of other behaviors associated with sitting that may also be the culprit. When we sit, we tend to consume empty calories. Especially those high in fat, sugar and salt. This in turn can lead to obesity, which in itself is linked with higher cancer risks, as well as a cascade of other health issues.
Still, it’s clear that sitting for prolonged periods of time is at the very least not good for us, as a decrease in even light physical activity leads to weight gain and metabolic changes over time. And this doesn’t even touch on the range of musculoskeletal disorders associated with sitting as well. Accordingly, it’s time to get creative about how we work. Try a standing desk or a bike desk. Take more breaks. Use ergonomic products to guard against musculoskeletal injury. Hold walking meetings. Whatever you do and however you do it, the key thing is just to get moving throughout the day.
For more on this topic, we highly recommend this summary of this most recent study.
How do you sneak movement into your daily routine? Let us know in the comments below.
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