If you work in an office or from home, you probably know all too well what it feels like to sit for hours on end with no time for breaks in between. If this is your daily experience, you likely experience pain and stiffness throughout the day. In addition, research suggests that too much sedentary time can also contribute to additional health complications.
A report published by JAMA Cardiology in June 2022 revealed how sitting for too long affected people from 21 different countries. Although this study is one of the largest to be released on this topic, it is not the first to reveal the hard truth about what a sedentary lifestyle can do to your health. This and other studies on this topic released over the past decade have found that Sitting for long periods of time every day without breaks can quickly age your body in a number of ways.
Read on to learn more about how this daily habit is aging you fast, and for more healthy aging tips check out 8 Food Habits to Slow Brain Aging.
How prolonged sitting can accelerate aging – and can have fatal consequences
Office jobs have always posed a threat to finding movement throughout the day. But with life away from home becoming much more common in recent years with the rise of the covid-19 pandemic, even more people will be sitting at their desks or on their couches for hours on end. Unfortunately, this can wreak havoc on the health of several population groups.
The JAMA Cardiology the study found that all the populations they studied had results that proved that more time spent sitting amounted to a greater risk of health complications. According to an article in ScienceAlert that explains JAMA Cardiology study, sitting between six and eight hours a day “increases the relative risk of heart disease and premature death by approx. [12–13%], compared to people who sit for less than four hours per day. Jump that time up to eight hours or more, and the relative risk drops to a staggering 20[%].”
Lots of other research has found similar conclusions about the negative effects of sitting for long periods of time during the day. A report published in 2019 in American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that longer periods of sitting on a daily basis were associated with an increased risk of both diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Additionally, another 2017 study from Journal of Lifestyle Medicine The evaluation of the habits of office workers concluded that long daily sitting hours – even between six and eight hours – were associated with hypertension and symptoms of the musculoskeletal system.
The Mayo Clinic also warns people about the dangers of sitting for hours on end without taking movement breaks, claiming that making this a routine habit can be linked to health complications such as high blood pressure, obesity, high blood sugar and even excess visceral fat. the type of fat found around your organs near the abdomen. In fact, after reviewing 13 studies that looked at sitting time versus the amount of one’s daily activity, the Mayo Clinic researchers concluded that “those who sat for more than eight hours a day without physical activity had a risk of death similar to that caused by obesity and smoking.”
Although an alarming statistic, thankfully, changing habitual sedentary behavior may be easier than you think.
Include more daily movement in your lifestyle
These findings may seem bleak, but there is hope for combating the effects of prolonged sitting. Although many of us need to continue sitting for several hours a day to get work done, research shows that even adding just one hour of movement a day can have hugely positive effects. For example, a 2016 study from University of Cambridge found that 60–75 minutes of moderate exercise daily, which includes a brisk walk or bike ride, may possibly eliminate the negative effects of aging as well as the increased risk of premature death associated with prolonged sitting.
While this may not be possible every day due to busy schedules or other common factors, it is promising to know that something as simple and small as a walk can potentially make a difference in improving your health, in addition to engaging in other forms of exercise. So if you work in an office or work at home, try a morning walk or an evening walk after dinner. When given an option between taking the stairs or taking the elevator, also choose to get more steps to counteract the effects of inevitable long periods of time in your chair. Your body will thank you!
Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha