How Sitting All Day Is Killing Your Body

If you're one of 86% of Americans who sit all day for their job, you could be at risk for 'sitting disease'.

By Lindsay Olson

If you're like 86% of American workers, you sit all day for your job. Add to that the time you spend sitting on the couch after work watching television, reading, playing games or surfing the Internet, and you spend approximately 13 hours a day sitting down, according to a survey by Ergotron, a manufacturer of digital display mounting and mobility products.

But could you be at risk for "Sitting Disease?"

Given the number of workers who perform their tasks on a computer or otherwise seated at a desk, medical experts are starting to become concerned about the health effects of sitting. The scientific community has coined the phrase "Sitting Disease" to refer to the effect sitting has on metabolism, as well as the negative impact of an overly sedentary lifestyle. It may not be a diagnosable disease yet, but if you sit the majority of the day and don't balance it out with physical activity, your health could be in jeopardy.

The Dangers of Sitting
Ergotron's informative site,, provides ample medical research indicating that prolonged sitting increases the risk of cancer, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and even death. Here are other shocking statistics:
  • People who sit for more than 11 hours a day have a 40 percent increased risk of death in the next three years, compared with people who sit for four hours or less.
  • Workers who have held sedentary roles for more than 10 years have twice the risk of colon cancer.
  • The longer people sit, the shorter their lifespan, even if they exercise regularly.
  • Sitting for long periods may also affect the development of musculoskeletal disorders.

Want to know how much you sit? Try out this Sitting Time Calculator to find out.

How to Stand Up Against Sitting Disease
Before you quit your desk job in favor of your health, arm yourself with information about how you can reduce your risk of health issues that sitting can cause. The key is being more active. But be aware: even if you consider yourself active now (meaning you spend 30 minutes or more a day engaging in physical exercise), you're still considered high risk if you spend eight to 10 hours a day sitting.

If possible, aim for more exercise, especially on the days you're sitting for work. Walking, hiking, biking and swimming are all excellent forms of exercise that counter the effects of sitting.

Also, look into standing and walking more at work and at home. Rather than call or IM a co-worker, walk over to her office. Park farther away in the parking lot so that you have another opportunity to walk. Invest in a FitBit or other pedometer device and aim for 10,000 steps a day. Stand up while watching TV, or at least during commercial breaks. Build activity into your day, even if it's in five-minute bursts.

There are also products available that let you stand, sit and stand, or even walk on a treadmill while you work on your computer. Sitting on a stability ball can also engage your muscles and make sitting a more active event.

Don't let the idea of Sitting Disease scare you. Make it an excuse to be more proactive about your health, both at the office and at home. Find opportunities to get up from your desk, or to work while standing (don't make going to the break room for a piece of birthday cake your excuse). Being aware of your health and how sitting affects it can help reduce the risk of the diseases that a sedentary lifestyle can bring, and being more active can have the added perk of better health and fitness, as well as weight loss.

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I stand because of back pain from sitting all day. For me standing at work has made a real, immediate, and positive impact on my life by significantly reducing my pain. I agree that the "risks" of sitting seem a bit unbelievable, but back pain from sitting all day is real and impacts millions of us. If you are like me and want to try standing at work, I recommend the Stand Steady It is well made and, for me, has made a big difference.

September 11 2013 at 4:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is not me typing , I died 7 years ago , no kidding ......and I don't have colon cancer ....
normal weight and normal blood pressure I clearly recall a secretary at the Savoy Hotel in London , He spend most of his life seating and survive well into his upper 90's , however he was dead the year after he retired {forced to} pay close attention at who is making these claims , a manufacturer of ergonomic office equipment , nice sales pitch.

August 29 2013 at 12:31 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

HP, where do you come up with this stuff....sitting disease?? So, all those who physically stand and perform on their feet all day are guilty of "standing" disease?

So tell us all....what and how would you classify those in public office and what is your suggested remedy?

August 28 2013 at 11:26 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Now you tell me after I have sit for 30 years at work. Too late for me!

August 28 2013 at 10:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Cheryl's comment

sound good for a dead person , LMAO

August 29 2013 at 12:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Imagine all the sitters who will now qualify for benefits and preferential treatment under the Americans with Disabilities Act!

Maybe I qualify since I sit on my fat can and write stupid responses to SnuffPost articles all the time.

August 28 2013 at 7:42 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to wallamalloo's comment

Great idea I now can file , thanks , this explain why all city workers have the handicap sign on their windshield .

August 29 2013 at 12:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What about the only remaining COWBOY the american TruckDriver sits at 12hr.days and for you critics if he or she didn't you would not have a thing to use at work home or office!!! (40) year veteran,and you can't get out every hour and go for a walk!!! or Stand to get to destination!!!

August 28 2013 at 7:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to fratbrat283's comment

Start building over the road trucks like garbage trucks. They are driven standing up. What would the union do with that idea? lol

August 28 2013 at 10:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to gmgpjandon's comment

I love to see your smart ass standing while driving across the country every day .

August 29 2013 at 12:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down

Interesting. But call it what it is. The consequences of sitting all day. No need to give it a name to imply illness.

August 28 2013 at 7:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
harry s

"they also serve who only stand and wait"

August 28 2013 at 5:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So what about our children who sit at school for 6-8 hours a day? should we make school days 4 hours & under in the U.S.?

August 28 2013 at 3:44 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
God Bless You

I worked for years in an office and I really enjoyed seating and doing most of my job seating. Working with a computer all day doing mostly data entries is tiresome.
In my time everything was done manually including accounting. Balancing the books was a challenge.
Now, softwares do most of the job especially the calculations.

August 28 2013 at 3:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to God Bless You's comment

You're absolutely right. Who knows what effect this will have on young people who rarely have to use their brains to solve problems the way we did. I'm a payroll specialist who also processes A/P. I never use a calculator, preferring instead to do the math myself. I also take IQ tests online for fun and to exercise my brain.

Even if I DID use a calculator, I would probably have to double-check the math by figuring it out for myself using the "long" version.. LOL

August 28 2013 at 5:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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