The science of why sitting all day is bad for your health


Is sitting all day at work slowly killing you? The simple answer is yes. Staying in a fixed position for extended durations can have serious adverse effects on your health.

In this episode of the Facebook series, "Science the $#!* out of it," Joe Avella and Jessica Orwig talk about what happens inside your body when you sit or stand all day.

Sitting in a stationary position every day can increase your risk of high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels. It may even cause premature death due to cardiovascular disease or certain types of cancer.

Also, it turns out that standing all day isn’t that much healthier than sitting all day and can cause similar health effects. But there is a silver lining: it’s not that hard to counteract.

Learn more on how to combat sitting or standing all day on this episode of "Science the $#!* out of it." Following is a transcript of the video.

Jessica Orwig: Joe, do you sit all day?

Joe Avella: Of course I sit all day. What, am I gonna have a standing desk like a psycho?

Orwig: Sitting all day might actually be killing you.

Avella: *Speechless*

Orwig: Guess I’ll have to science the $#!* out of this one myself.

Avella: Time to do a little sitting.

Orwig: Joe, what are you doing?

Avella: Sitting down. Feels great. Sitting totally rocks.

Orwig: Yeah, that’s not a good thing.

Avella: So why don’t you explain to me these alleged health effects that I might experience from sitting all day.

Orwig: Numerous studies over the years have linked too much sitting to a greater risk of obesity, higher blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, or even ultimately premature death due to stroke, cardiovascular disease, or certain types of cancer.

Avella: Death? I hate death. Oh, sitting. Now, maybe I haven’t done as much research as you have but standing all day is bull I’ve had jobs where I’ve stood all day and that really is uncomfortable too.

Orwig: I mean, it’s not that much better for you.

Avella: Ah, I knew it.

Orwig: One of the differences between standing and sitting is that standing burns a few more calories. One study showed that it was about nine more calories per hour. Multiply that by an eight hour day. That’s about 72 calories. Or, a quarter of a candy bar, which is not very much. As far as your overall health is concerned, standing in one place for extended periods of time versus sitting in one place for that same amount of time isn’t going to make much of a difference.

Avella: Just by virtue of sitting in this building, I am going to get some sort of cancer or have a stroke?

Orwig: Well, not necessarily.

Avella: The working stiff can’t win in this country, am I right?

Orwig: Not necessarily. So, there are ways you can combat this. One message is clear: movement is the key. Experts at Cornell suggest getting up and moving every 20 to 30 minutes. It can be as simple as getting up and walking around for a few minutes. But, the key here is getting your muscles working and getting that blood flowing.

Avella: Oh, I like this. So, something healthy like get up, go to the kitchen, grab a doughnut.

Orwig: No.

Avella: Get a soda.

Orwig: No.

Avella: Alright. So at this point in the video, I think we can both agree exercise totally sucks. But, hypothetically speaking, if I wanted to exercise to offset the damages done by glorious sitting, what would I have to do?

Orwig: 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week has been shown to reduce your overall mortality rate by seven percent compared to if you were just sitting around all day and not exercising at all. Now, if you increase that amount of time to 300 minutes of moderate exercise a week, that can actually reduce your overall mortality rate by 14 percent. Not bad. Joe!

Avella: What?

Orwig: What are you doing? I just explained to you why sitting is so bad.

Avella: Yeah I know, I’m taking a break.

Orwig: No, that’s not what I said. You need to be moving with your break. You know, if you’re sitting all day, it’s going to be bad for your heart, it’s bad for your brain, it’s bad for your arteries, it’s bad for your overall health. It will make you die sooner.

Avella: Ohh…

Orwig: Get the (bleep) up.

Avella: Alright. Geez. You’re starting to sound like me.

Orwig: Now move.

Avella: Okay, alright, I’m moving, I’m moving, I’m moving, I’m leaving, I’m leaving, goodbye.

Orwig: Bye, Joe.

Avella: See ya. Bye guys.

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from SAI