You probably think if you’ve got a desk job that isn’t too stressful, a good support system in family and friends, hit the gym regularly and develop healthy social relationships, you’ve pretty much covered everything in your power to boost your health and wellness levels. But what if I told you that the desk job you’re pretty proud of is probably hazardous to your health—and not for the reasons you probably think.
Research is coming to light that sitting (that continuous period of being seated), could actually be killing you. It sounds rather extreme and maybe even laughably ridiculous, but allow me to explain it in Science.
In the words of Dr. James Levine, Professor of Medicine for the Mayo Clinic’s Department of Endocrinology:
The body’s metabolic engines go to sleep. The muscles stop moving all together and the heart slows. Then, the body’s calorie-burning rate plummets to about one calorie per minute — a third of what it would be if you were walking. Insulin effectiveness drops and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes rises. Fat and cholesterol levels rise too.
Here’s a Google Hangout video of Dr. Levine discussing this emerging health risk with Natalie Morales:
He’s actually invented something to help combat this: the treadmill desk. Here’s a visual:
However, if that’s not an option for you, then Dr. Levine’s advice is to take ten minutes to walk around every hour you’re sitting.
As most of us are well aware, sitting is also hell on your posture and the health of your spinal column. Douglas Lentz, certified strength and conditioning specialist and Director of Fitness & Wellness for Summit Health in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania says:
When you sit all day, your hip flexors and hamstrings shorten and tighten, while the muscles that support your spine become weak and stiff.
Unsurprisingly, Women’s Health Magazine notes
that the incidence of chronic lower-back pain among women has increased threefold since the early 1990s.
As if that weren’t bad enough (because this depressing cake still needs some icing, it seems), Genevieve Healy, Ph.D. and research fellow at the Cancer Prevention Research Centre of the University of Queensland in Australia echoes what several other medical professionals have already stated:
…even if you exercise, you’re not immune. We’ve become so sedentary that 30 minutes a day at the gym may not do enough to counteract the detrimental effects of eight, nine, or 10 hours of sitting. That’s one big reason so many women still struggle with weight, blood sugar, and cholesterol woes despite keeping consistent workout routines.
Lest none of the above has set you on edge, know that according to the Mayo Clinic,
Too much sitting also seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.
So, you know. There’s that.
Maybe Peter Gibbons from Office Space had the right idea, after all.