Study after study has shown unequivocally that sitting too much is bad for our health. In fact, a sedentary lifestyle has been linked to everything from obesity and diabetes to heart disease and certain cancers.
So, have all these warnings done what they’re meant to do?
By that I mean, are people sitting less knowing the dangerous implications?
Or is all this research falling on deaf ears?
A new study led by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has found the answer to that question to be both disappointing and concerning…
Couch “potato-ing” seems here to stay
Hopefully, you’ve made some changes that have you on your toes much more often than on your couch to avoid the known dangers of a sedentary lifestyle — like cardiovascular disease and stroke, to name a few.
But if you’re not sure how you rate, you can see how you compare with 51,000 people who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2001 and 2016 — to track sitting trends in front of TVs and computers, as well as the total amount of time spent sitting on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, the results — which grabbed data across all age ranges — were less than stellar.
“In almost none of the groups we analyzed are the numbers going in the right direction,” said Yin Cao, ScD, an epidemiologist and assistant professor of surgery in the Division of Public Health Sciences, and the study’s senior author. “We want to raise awareness about this issue on multiple levels — from individuals and families to schools, employers and elected officials.”
Here’s what they found…
Despite warnings, total daily sitting time increased from 2007 to 2016:
- From seven hours per day to just over eight for teenagers
- And, from 5.5 hours per day to almost 6.5 for adults
When it came to time spent watching television or videos, the numbers revealed that not only are we not paying attention to the dangers of sitting, we’re completely ignoring them…
That’s because the research shows that most Americans spend at least two hours per day sitting and watching television or videos. Folks over 65 spent even more time!
In fact, across all age groups, 28 percent to 38 percent of those surveyed spent at least three hours per day watching television or videos.
But 13 percent to 23 percent spent even more — up to four hours a day lounging like couch potatoes in front of the TV.
The researchers also discovered that across the board, there was one factor that increased screen time — obesity. In other words, participants who were obese were more likely to spend extra time sitting, watching television, an activity that increased their risk of obesity even further.
But TV time wasn’t the only problem…
At least half of all age groups used a computer during leisure time for more than one hour per day and up to a quarter used computers outside of work and school for three hours or more.
So, someone who spent eight hours on their computer at work was still likely to spend another hour or more on their home computer.
Sedentary danger is serious
This means that not only is our health at risk thanks to the time we spend sitting, but our risks are also going up and not down — even though research keeps coming out to warn us of the dire consequences.
But there is good news amongst all of the bad…
Research at the University of Massachusetts Amherst found that you can avoid the blood sugar dangers caused by a sedentary lifestyle by doing one simple thing while you sit.
And, a Glasgow University study discovered two secrets to staying healthy even if you spend too much time on the couch.
For more tips to avoid the chronic diseases caused by too much time on your backside, you can also check out Dr. Mark Wiley’s list of ways he has added extra physical activity to his day.
It all comes down to this – the more active you are, the longer and better you can live. So, get up and move whenever possible. Go for a walk, stand up when making phone calls or turn up the music and dance to celebrate healthier you.
- Despite health warnings, Americans still sit too much — EurekAlert!