Health Rx: Sit Less

Wait…Sitting too much can shorten my life???


A recent study published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests prolonged sitting can increase the risk of death. We also know that prolonged sitting, known as sedentary time, increases the risk of chronic conditions such as obesity, type II diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

With the technological revolution of the past few decades, we have become a largely sedentary society.  Our bodies are made to move, but we live in a culture of inactivity: driving to and from work, sitting at the desk at work, and adding hours of screen time at home. American adults are sitting greater than fifty percent of their waking hours!

We all know that engaging in regular exercise has positive effects for both physical and psychological health and wellbeing, but even if you are a regular gym goer or routine exerciser, it may not be enough to counter the health consequences of a largely sedentary lifestyle. 

Prolonged sitting, or increased sedentary time, is an independent risk factor for many chronic medical conditions. Currently there are no guidelines for sedentary time, but by reducing the total amount of sitting time and the length of uninterrupted periods of sitting, you can lower this risk.

We recommend the following:

·      Limit leisure screen time (ie. television, social media, etc) to less than two hours a day

·      Limit the length of uninterrupted sitting to less than thirty minutes at a time.

·      Move more!

The good news is that by sitting less and moving more, you can reduce the health risks associated with prolonged sitting and help reaching your daily physical activity goals.


Ten Tips to Minimize Sitting

1.     Get off the couch and walk around during commercial breaks

2.     Do household chores while watching TV (i.e. folding laundry or ironing)

3.     Set your phone alarm every 30 min at work to spend a few minutes standing or walking

4.     Walk while you talk on the phone (use a headset so you can leave your desk)

5.     Get outside. Spend less time eating at lunch (mindfully of course) and take a short walk.

6.     Walk to your colleagues’ desk instead of phoning or emailing

7.     Stand at the back of the room during meetings

8.     Park your car further away from your destination

9.     Get off/on public transportation one stop earlier

10.  Break the social media habit – set one or two specific times to check your outlets but otherwise, put the screen away


 The take home message… Sit less and move more!


For more information or assistance with improving your lifestyle, contact Enhance Health at 603-448-0055.

Cathleen Beaver, MD