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The Sitting Disease Which Could Kill You


With the average person sitting for 9.3 hours a day a lot of us are at risk of negative health problems simply because we’re too sedentary.

What happens when you sit?

According to research collated by if you sit down for too long glucose levels drop and insulin resistance increases. As soon as you sit down the following things happen to your body:

  • Electrical activity in leg muscles shuts off
  • Calorie burning drops to 1 per minute
  • Enzymes that break down fat drop 90%

After 2 hours your good cholesterol drops by 20% and after 24 hours insulin effectiveness drops 24% and the risk of diabetes rises. People with sitting jobs have twice the rate of cardiovascular disease as those with standing jobs.

What can you do?

This isn’t a situation where exercise can counteract the effects of sitting for a long time so it’s extremely important to interrupt sitting whenever you can. Spend your lunch breaks standing; try and stand up for 3-5 minutes every few hours.

One real problem with our lifestyles is that sitting carries on at home after work. For those of us who work in an office sitting for long periods of time is unfortunately inevitable. But think about what happens when you leave the office.

Driving home or taking public transport is often more sitting, and getting in and “putting your feet up” prolongs the sedentary behaviour. Simply standing up regularly in the evening or going for short walks will fight off the so-called “sitting disease”. As Dr Wilmot, who led a study on sitting told the BBC,

“People convince themselves they are living a healthy lifestyle, doing their 30 minutes of exercise a day…But they need to think about the other 23.5 hours.”

Half the battle of combating our sedentary behaviour is being aware of it. Try and become conscious of how much you sit down each day so that you’re encouraged to move about a bit more.

Steve Canning

Clinical Director & Senior Physiotherapist

Steve is the Clinical Director and a Senior Physiotherapist at the White House clinic and has worked at the clinic since 2005. He qualified with a BSc in Physiotherapy from Sheffield Hallam University in 2002.

Steve Canning

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