Desk Work Increases Your Risk for the Sitting Disease

Can sitting down for long periods be considered a health risk? That would put millions of office workers, call center agents, gamers and people who spend lots of time in front of the TV at risk for the “sitting disease,” a newly recognized entity that is plaguing many people.

Sitting Too Much

Milton Waddams from Office Space probably sat tto much.

What is the Sitting Disease?

Although there is no medical term of this sort, ‘sitting disease’ is the new buzzword for sedentary behaviors that involve sitting for long periods of time during the day, while:

  • Doing a desk job
  • Watching TV
  • Commuting or driving to work
  • Chatting on the phone or social networking
  • Banking online, shopping, surfing the web, answering emails, etc.
  • Eating long meals, socializing or partying around a table with food and wine
  • Unwinding with a book or a magazine on a couch

The list can go on and on, and most people will find that they do spend a lot of time being sedentary, even if they go to the gym three times a week.

So how is this body position a risk for disease? Various studies have demonstrated how prolonged sitting can influence the development of chronic disease that may be serious enough to shorten one’s life.

Prolonged Sitting Increases Your Risk for Chronic Disease

Approximately only 28 percent of Americans are doing the minimum amount of exercise recommended for health. This puts a large percentage of people who lead sedentary lifestyles at risk for many diseases.

Body Sitting Effects

Some ways that sitting too much affects the body. Source: CBC

According to a study published by the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2010, a lack of activity among Americans has the highest association with death due to cardiovascular disease. Researchers have found that women who spent more than 6 hours per day of sitting time has a 40% increased risk for death, while men had a 20% higher risk for dying compared to those who spent 3 hours or less of continuous sitting. Even if other lifestyle factors were considered, such as smoking and alcohol consumption, analysis of data still showed that inactivity had the biggest influence in the development of disease. A study done in Canada yielded similar results. However, Japanese men were found to be more prone to premature death related to sedentary lifestyles compared to women.

Aside from heart disease, the 2010 study has shown that sitting time is associated with increasing biomarkers that signal obesity and diabetes type 2, such as blood sugar levels, triglyceride levels and cholesterol levels. As inactivity leads to weight gain, especially in women, it is also known to increase waist circumference, another factor associated with obesity.

Other diseases that may be associated with sedentary habits to a lesser degree are cancer and respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous system diseases.


The growing body of evidence shows how most people are increasing their risk for premature death by spending most of their waking hours engaged in sedentary behaviors. The challenge now is how to break up these long sitting hours and introduce different degrees of activities within the day, aside from doing the recommended amount of exercise to maintain health.

Among the many ways one can take a break from prolonged sitting are using a sit-stand desk, taking micro-breaks every hour, walking or pacing while using the mobile phone and doing some stretching exercises periodically. Changing your sedentary behavior can significantly improve your health and add to your life span.




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