A new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine states that sitting for long periods of time increases your risk of all-cause early death. Those at greatest risk are people who sit more than eleven hours a day, followed by those who sit eight to eleven hours a day. If you sit four hours or less a day, you have the lowest risk.
This study is alarming considering the rise in sedentary jobs across the country. Don’t despair. For those with desk jobs, occupational health experts have developed a sit-stand workstation. These desks make computing comfortable for prolonged periods by allowing the flexibility to switch from sitting to standing with the flick of the wrist. Another option is the treadmill desk where you can slowly walk on the treadmill while working on the computer. If you don’t want to change your desk at work, incorporate standing and walking into your activities at least every hour. Climb the stairs. Bike or walk to work, if possible.
Prolonged sitting at work is not the only culprit. The average American sits for 90% of their leisure time. If an active lifestyle is not part of your leisure time, you are at risk for a number of health-related issues. For women, this includes diabetes and breast cancer. For all of us, it includes colon cancer, back pain and as stated above, risk of early death.
So whatever you do, get out of the chair and start moving. Consult a physical therapist if you need help establishing the right exercise program for you. Now, it’s time for me to walk my dog.
Diane Owens, PT, FACHE
St. David’s Rehabilitation Hospital