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Healthline Connects

Get Up and Move Around: Sitting Causes Too Many Problems

New study suggests a need for continuous exercise.

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As a writer by trade, I spend most of my day in a cubicle, typing away at a computer. After work, I go home and work on more writing projects, accumulating even more time in front of the computer or typewriter.

Between the hours on the computer, I rollerblade to and from work. This involves skating a few miles (sometimes at up to 30 mph) on my Valos with the occasional stop to throw down a few tricks on some ledges.

I often figured that this mixing of exercise in my day made up for all the time I spend in a chair. Apparently that’s not the case.

New research out of the University of Missouri suggests that even with regular exercise, spending the majority of your time sitting leaves you at risk for chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. 

This new research is a bit disheartening to those who work at a desk and thought the exercise they were getting in was enough. I know I’m not alone.

Too many Americans fall victim to the sedentary lifestyle enabled by technology and electronic devices. There’s endless entertainment and information on the computer, so it’s easy to get sucked into the void of sitting for hours on end.

This doesn’t apply just to my fellow cubicle jockies—it applies to everyone who moves from active to inactive on a daily basis. The research suggests that those going from high amounts of activity (about 10,000 steps a day) to inactivity (or fewer than 5,000 steps a day) are at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes. The ideal amount of activity, the study says, is walking roughly five miles a day—500 to 1,000 steps every few hours.

It’s not always that easy. Life can be hectic and many of us don’t have every second to worry about our health. Exercising every hour might be nearly impossible for some.

New parents, for example, who were probably used to more free time to tend to themselves while now they’re busy caring for their little one. Or, it could apply to anyone who found new stress in their lives and want for nothing more than to sit down and relax after a trying day. 

I think any of us with a desk job should safely assume they aren’t doing enough. Here are a few ways to incorporate more activity into your sedentary time:

  • Sit on an exercise ball instead of a chair. While it’s not rigorous exercise, you’ll get slightly more movement than a traditional chair, as well as working difficult core muscles.
  • If you need to talk to someone in your office, get out of your chair and go to his or her desk instead of emailing.
  • Bike, walk, or skate to work.
  • Watch TV on the treadmill.
  • Walk during your lunch hour.
  • Check out our Creative Ways to Burn Calories slideshow for more tips.

Also, avoiding junk food is also a good way to ward off diabetes and obesity. Avoiding excess amounts of alcohol is also a good way to keep your liver healthy.

If you’re sitting still because you’re tired and stressed, try being active to distress instead. It can help cut through stress and increase your energy—plus you’ll sleep better.

You don’t have a strap on a pedometer to count every single step, but you should look for ways to put activity into your day.

That’s it. I’m going for a walk. 

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Tags: Epidemics , Latest Studies & Research , Public Health & Policy

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About the Author

Brian Krans is an Assistant Editor and writer at Healthline.com.

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