Humans are not sedentary creatures. Our ancestors spend their day hunting, building, farming, and so on. But we evolved. We have found ways and developed technologies to make daily life easier – something that requires less physical effort. Do you want to switch TV channels? Just press a few buttons in the remote control. Do you want to go shopping? Just browse the web. Do you want to go someplace? Sit in front of the wheel and take a drive.

We are living in a world constructed to keep us sitting, all for convenience’s sake. But here’s the bad news, sitting down can shave years off your life. What is worse, the damage it does to your health can never be undone by exercising.

This finding did not come from fringe science. A 2011 study from the American Cancer Society, who studied the health outcomes of more than 120,000 people during a 14-year period, found that men who and women who sit for more than six hours a day were, respectively, 20% and 40% more likely to die during the course of the study than those who sat less than three hours a day.

Sitting is Killing You
Image credit: evowalkdesk

This conclusion is supported by a new study currently running in the Anals of Internal Medicine that examined 47 studies analyzing the relationship between physical inactivity and mortality. The researchers found that sedentary lifestyle increases people’s risk to diseases or health condition that can result to premature death – even with exercise. They found out that individuals who spend their day sitting were found to be 24% at risk to early death (usually due to type 2 diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and other illnesses related to sedentary lifestyle) than those who sat less.

Now you might ask, how exactly does sitting ruin my body? Well, here’s the thing, as soon as you sit…

Your leg muscles become idle. That is, all of its electrical activity shuts off. Also, the amount of calorie you burn drops to 1 every minute, and the enzymes that help your body break down fat decline significantly at a rate of 90%.

After two hours of sitting…

Your good cholesterol, the fats that help remove bad cholesterol or low-density lipoproteins (LDL) which block and cause plaque buildup in your arteries, drop to 20%.

Here’s the worst. After 24 hours of sitting…

The effectiveness of insulin in your blood drops to 24%, putting you at high risk to diabetes.

And the bad news is that no amount of exercise can counter the bad effects of daily prolonged sitting. So what’s the solution?

Health experts offer a simple suggestion: take note of how much time you are sitting and make it a goal to reduce that number a bit every day.

If sitting is part of your work, give your legs and butt a break by standing or walking around for at least a minute every half an hour.