How many hours do you sit a day?
Odds are, quite a few. One study found that Americans spend, on average, more than half of their waking hours sedentary—and that’s not even including hours they’re asleep.
Another study published in the BMJ medical journal found that adults spend almost 8 of their waking hours sitting down.
Both of these numbers are pretty frightening.
But why are they so scary? After all, in today’s society, it’s expected to spend a lot of time sitting, with 9-to-5 desk jobs, televisions, cars, and computers. As long as you exercise for a bit of time every day, you don’t have to worry about sitting less during the rest of the day, right?
Scientists have found many reasons to sit less…most importantly that being sedentary may shorten your life.
Here are five other reasons to take a standing break and improve your health.
5 Why You Need To Stand Up More Often
1. Sitting Can Make You Fat
This one perhaps isn’t too surprising—the more you sit, the more likely you’ll gain weight. However, just exercising doesn’t let you off the hook.
According to one study, sitting for large amounts of the day was associated with a significantly higher risk of obesity—and that’s independent of exercise. The study emphasizes that watching television was the most dangerous activity measured.
Related: 7 Steps to Fat Loss
2. Sitting is Associated with Developing Type 2 Diabetes
Sitting on that chair for too long won’t just impact the way your body looks. The same study also found that those who are sedentary for long periods of time also have a significantly higher risk for type 2 diabetes, likely because diabetes often goes hand in hand with obesity.
3. Sitting Increases Your Risk of Getting Varicose Veins
We all have veins in our legs, but varicose veins are a condition where veins become visible and enlarged in your skin with a contorted appearance. It’s often merely a cosmetic concern, but it also can be painful and uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, if you sit for most of your time awake (8 hours or more a day), you have a much higher risk of getting varicose veins.
Related: 7 Ways to Get Motivated to Exercise
4. Sitting is Bad for Your Heart
Sit less, and have a healthier heart. According to one study, participants who had the highest sedentary time had 90% more risk of “cardiovascular mortality”—or death due to heart conditions. They also had a 147% higher risk of a “cardiovascular event,” or anything that may harm your heart.
5. Sitting Can Lower “Good” Cholesterol
Plopping down on the couch for too long may not just increase your risk for health complications, but it can also take away the good work you’ve put in already. Researchers have found that a sedentary lifestyle may reduce high-density lipoprotein cholesterol—otherwise known as good cholesterol.
Though exercising is great, don’t think that you’re in the clear if you spend the rest of your day off your feet. A sedentary lifestyle may shorten your life through elevated risks of obesity, diabetes, and heart problems, as well as lowering “good” cholesterol. Plus, though it’s not generally a life-threatening problem, too much sitting can also cause varicose veins, which is a source of embarrassment and discomfort to many.
Researchers suggest sitting less than three hours a day to possibly increase your life expectancy by two years. Though this might seem impossible, it’s easier than you might think to reduce the amount of time you spend off your feet. Try getting up and taking walking breaks, getting up to stretch and pace a little during commercials, using a standing desk, or even have your meetings with others be a walk around the block rather than a sit-down affair.
Remember to sit less and move more, and your body will thank you.
Photo by Victor1558
Originally posted in 11/13 and updated in 11/14