Sedentary Lifestyle Causes Health Woes and Shortens Lifespans

Posted on October 8th, 2010 by Dr. Mercola  |  10 Comments »

There’s a new epidemic called sitting disease or a sedentary lifestyle. And you may be an all too willing victim.

Chances are you’re either at work or at home reading this article, seated on your computer chair. An eight-hour office job ties you to your desk. You spend an hour or two on the road driving your car. When you get home, you dive onto your couch to watch television or go right back online.

An Institute for Medicine and Public Health poll found that Americans spend 56 hours a week sitting down. That’s way too much time to be sedentary, says Dr. Joseph Mercola. If you still don’t believe that a sedentary lifestyle is bad for your health, take a look at the growing body of research:

  • A study published by the American Cancer Society stated that women who spent six hours a day sitting down increased their risk of death by 37 percent compared to those who spent less than three hours a day sitting down. Men increased their risk by 17 percent. Women may be more sedentary than men because they tend to do less active jobs and engage in fewer sports.
  • A study featured in Clinical Cardiology showed that morbidly obese individuals – those with body mass indexes between 40 and 49.9 – were sedentary for more than 99 percent of the day, and took less than 2,500 steps daily, which is way below the recommended 10,000 steps for healthy living. Obesity has been linked to five of the top 10 diseases with the highest mortality rates: cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and stroke.
  • Obesity and physical inactivity makes your body less sensitive to the glucose-lowering effects of insulin, Dr. Mercola explains. Diminished sensitivity to insulin leads to higher blood levels of insulin, which can increase your risk of pancreatic cancer.
  • According to a study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise reported that men who spent most of their time sitting had the greatest risk of heart problems. Those who watch TV and sit in their cars – either as passengers or as drivers – for more than 23 hours a week increased their risk of death from heart disease by 64 percent compared to those who only sat for 11 hours a week or less.
  • The more time you spend sedentary, the less you move and the less blood sugar your body burns. This may increase your risk of diabetes, Dr. Mercola warns. Your heart disease risk may also increase because the enzymes that regulate blood fats are inactive.
  • Less physical activity leaves you more prone to depression because you have lower levels of endorphins or feel-good hormones.

Studies also show that regular workouts may not be enough to fully counteract the harmful effects of prolonged sitting. What you can do, however, is to engage in more physical activity, one step at a time.

Dr. Mercola was a runner for over 40 years. He logged tens of thousands of miles but recently stopped running and conventional cardio type training in favor of the Peak Fitness exercise program.

It doesn’t matter how old you are or what level of fitness you have. Implementing a comprehensive exercise regimen can provide enormous benefits for your health. Don’t feel overwhelmed by the variety and intensity. Start small and slow and build up gradually.

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