Blog #2 – The “Sitting Disease”

The sitting disease

"Today, our bodies are breaking down from obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, depression and the cascade of health ills and everyday malaise that come from what scientists have named the "Sitting Disease".

- James Levine, MD, PhD

Do you have a desk job? Are you on your feet during your breaks? Do you fall into a Netflix binge once the working day is done? Well, the Stand up Australia study found that Aussie office workers sit for 77% of their day (an average of 6.3 hours per working day).

Our bodies are designed to move often which initiates key physical and physiological processes vital for optimal daily function. However, it’s easy for us to stay glued to our screens for hours on end without realising we are falling victims to the silent “sitting disease”.  

The Sitting Disease is a term used when referring to metabolic syndrome and the ill-effects of a sedentary lifestyle. Sedentary refers to being in an inactive state (sitting, lying down).

What happens to me when I sit for long periods throughout the day? 

  • Burn less calories (reduced muscle activity)
  • Neck pain
  • Upper back pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Reduced circulation
  • Increased fat deposit (especially around the waist)
  • Reduction in the blood fat lowering enzyme lipoprotein lipase
  • Increased risk of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases (diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke)
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Increased risk of early mortality (death)

It’s important to note that people who are inactive and sit for long periods may have up to a 147% higher risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke. Being physically inactive is the 4th leading risk factor for global mortality. The World Health Organisation (WHO) have revealed that physical inactivity is the 2nd greatest contributor (behind tobacco smoking) to the cancer burden in Australia.

How much exercise is recommended for adults?

The WHO recommends that Adults 18+ years participate in at least 150 minutes/week of easy to moderate intensity exercise. The good thing is that this can include any form of exercise such as dancing, walking, going up and down stairs. Even better is that exercise routines can be performed within your home and using household items!

Even if I’m physically active, does the Sitting disease matter?

Even those who meet the recommended levels of physical activity can still be impacted by the sitting disease. 

"We’ve become so sedentary that 30mins at the gym each day may not counteract the detrimental effects of 8, 9 or 10 hours of sitting".

- Genevieve Healy, University of Queensland

However, THERE IS GOOD NEWSBreaking down long periods of sitting just by getting up every hour evokes a number of benefits for our health including:

  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Reduced body fat and waist circumference
  • Improved cholesterol
  • Improved insulin regulation
  • Improved mood and cognitive function
  • Improved bone, lung and heart health
  • Increased focus and productivity
  • Reduced risk of heart disease, certain cancers (breast, colon), Diabetes and early mortality

Take note: It's not about how long you stand up for, but HOW MANY TIMES you stand up in the day that makes the difference!

What can I do to be more active during work hours?

  • Fill your cup/mug halfway so you have to refill it more frequently.
  • Set a regular alarm so you stand up every hour.
  • Have an item/picture on your desk as a reminder to get up.
  • Stand up during phone calls/meetings.
  • If you’re working from home, organise your office so that you have to stand up/walk to reach the printer, using your phone, accessing files.
  • Stand up during commercial breaks or between episodes when watching TV.
 Our Senior Physiotherapist, Yoon has created a desk-based stretching video you can do at home or in the office (only takes 60 seconds). 


Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on Linkdin
Share on whatsapp
Share via Whatsapp

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *