We spend more time sitting then ever before. Most people have assumed that the poor health effects of sitting are due to the decrease in activity. Although this is true, there is likely more to the story. Sitting may be an independent risk factor for chronic disease.
A recent study found that sitting over 4 hours per day was linked to chronic illnesses, like diabetes. Interestingly this was independent of physical activity level or other factors. This link doesn't tell us exactly why sitting is a risk factor, but only that there is a strong correlation. More research needs to be done, but it is possible that a decrease in circulation from prolonged sitting could be a factor. This is an important new finding because it suggests that sitting for long periods, then going to the gym, no matter how intense, may not be enough!
These findings highlight the importance of taking regular breaks from sitting throughout the day, especially if you have a job which requires you to sit at a desk. This is obviously easier said than done. Timers or apps are the most inexpensive way to remind you to stand up and move around. Another, more expensive, option is to purchase an adjustable standing desk, so you can easily change from sitting to standing throughout the day.
So the next time you total your daily steps on your electronic counter, think about ways to decrease your sitting time as well!
George, E. S., Rosenkranz, R. R., & Kolt, G. S. (2013). Chronic disease and sitting time in middle-aged Australian males: findings from the 45 and Up Study. The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 10, 20.