I have a hard time getting my mind wrapped around the fact that sitting is “dangerous” or bad for my health. My tail is firmly rooted in my car seat, desk chair, and couch at night. Of course, the couch might be a figment of my imagination with our two and four year old boys… they don’t let me sit for long. Let’s be honest, sitting is so integrated into my life, that it takes a great deal of effort to figure out how to increase the number of hours that I stand. I am comfortable with sitting. So “dangerous” and “scared” do not really register when I hear those words associated with taking a load off.
Dr. James Levin, the author of “Get Up!” is quoted as saying:
“Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves death.”
It wasn’t until I read an Australian study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in October 2012, that I started to do a double take at how much I sit during the day. In the report, they stated that every hour of TV that people watch, cuts about 22 minutes from their life span. Just to put that in perspective, it’s estimated that smokers take 11 minutes off their life for each cigarette. I realize that when I sit, my calorie burn rate plummets, but what else is going on?
According to research, they have found that sitting suppresses the production of lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme that helps to turn bad cholesterol into good. Plus, sitting can lead to insulin resistance and difficulty metabolizing sugar. Now it is more clear how sitting can be so closely associated with heart disease and diabetes.
So I started to count my sitting hours…
Driving- 1.5 hours
Desk work- 6 hours
Working at night- 3 hours
Total sitting per 24 hour period: 10.5 hours
I have been much more conscious about sitting, when I have the choice. At a conference last week, I stood in the back of the room rather then sitting in one of the conference chairs. At work, I switch back and forth between a exercise ball and a standing work desk. I guess there is some satisfaction in knowing that I potentially added “22 minutes” to my life each day. Am I scared of sitting? No, not really. However, I am much more conscious about sitting and I appreciate the awareness that this research brings to my life. If you need a standing partner, just find me in the back of the room, awkwardly trying to hold my notebook up as I take notes. I may not be terrified of taking a seat, but I am aware of how often I put my legs up.