Real Life Issues: The Sitting Disease Kills

I am practically a sloth…



Sure, I work out most days of the week, whether it’s running, lifting, or doing a bodyweight circuit workout… I move.

Many of us do. But that’s only an hour, or 4% of our day. And to be honest, sometimes it’s not even for that long.

What am I doing for the other 23 hours? Most likely what you’re doing… sitting at a desk to work, sitting down to eat, sitting down to drive my car, laying down to sleep, and well there are a few hours I am actually standing up to teach boot camps.

Yup, just call me Taylor McSloth

Most adults spend 50-70% of their time sitting. That’s so depressing!

What’s more depressing is that we get stir crazy when we sit for too long involuntarily, yet we voluntarily sit when we could be moving.

The point is that even with my fitness lifestyle, I am sitting on my butt far more than I am up moving.

What about you? 

Did You Know Sitting Kills?

See this entire sitting infographic here
Minute By Minute

Here’s a fun fact that I found incredibly interesting:

According to this study published in the NY Times, Every single hour of television watched after the age of 25 reduces the viewer’s life expectancy by 21.8 minutes. What’s more… is that smoking a cigarette reduces life expectancy only by about 11 minutes!

It doesn’t matter if you workout or not, if you sit on the couch for 4 hours each night, your life may be shortened by 87.2 minutes every single day. In a year that’s 31,740.8 minutes shaved from your life.

Crazy? We originally got rid of our television so that we could work more efficiently, I had no idea of this stat. Now, I think Dan ad I are both relieved!

The Sitting Disease

What’s the big problem of sitting down if you exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet?

Here it is: Sitting (in this study it was in front of a tv) for more than 4 hours per day has an increased risk of 80% of dying early due to cardiovascular disease compared to adults who watched less than 2 hours of television per day.

Oh, and regular exercise seems to have no affect.

The only thing that can help is getting up off the couch, out of your computer chair and onto your feet. Move more, live longer. That’s the take away.

Just standing burns 3x the amount of calories than when you sit. Muscles are activated and your body is working to keep you balanced and in control.

You Were Meant To Move

We’re able to walk and move freely because that’s what we’re suppose to do. Muscles become underworked and imbalanced from sitting because it’s not what we’re meant to do. It weakens us and increases our risk of disease, injury, depression, and so much more.

What happens when you sit for too long? You get an irritable and an itch to get up. That’s a sign!

So if we get so flustered from sitting too long, then why do we sit so much?

In top of the physical benefits, there are also mental benefits. People that practice short bursts of exercise are mentally stronger, have better concentration, perform better and are happier. Just another reason to move during your lunch break.

Whats A Fit Gal Suppose To Do?

The generally recommendation is to get 10,000 steps in each day. Or roughly 5 miles.

Sure you can “walk” 5 miles or perhaps you might find some joy in Prancercizing. I mean lets face it, not only is it good for the body but you won’t be able to stop smiling as you prance to work. Am I right, or am I right?

(This is an image, click to see the video it’s worth it!)


Or you can power walk your way around town if you’re in a hurry.


Here’s a story I have never shared with you before… in college I used to take a pys. ed class every semester. One semester I signed up for speed walking. It was a blast! Our 6’5 ex-baseball coach teacher was all into the sport and threatened to fail us if we jogged. To be honest it was a pretty decent workout! I didn’t sport the awesome Malcolm In The Middle outfit above though. Thank goodness.

In all seriousness though…

Unless I am going for a run, there is no way I come close to 10,000 steps per day. Living in a city where driving is a necessity, we are suffering big time. But that doesn’t mean that we just toss in the towel and say, “oh well, guess I’ll go sit down now and be jealous of New Yorkers who can walk every where.”

Nope, we have to do what we can. And it’s a lot more than what I am doing right now. Chances are you too. But, if you do get 10,000 steps in per day, I would love to know! And give you a hug!

How To Get More Movement In

Here are just some ideas to help take the pressure off your tush!

  • Walk more (duh). Park the car far away, take the stars, etc. Don’t take the lazy route, no matter how tempting.
  • Set a timer. This is one we use… set a timer when ever you’re sitting down for 30 minutes. For every half hour of sitting, get up and spend 3-5 minutes moving. Do lunges around the house, grab a kettlebell, do some push-ups, etc.
  • Stand up. Set your computer up on a counter, someplace you can stand and work. If you’re on the phone, get up and walk while on it. Take every opportunity you can to stand on your own 2 feet.
  • Activity dates. I know this has been posted in every magazine but it is a great suggestion. Instead of dinner and a movie, opt for dinner and yoga (we recently did this and loved it); or a run with brunch. Don’t let social situations lead to flattening your butt.
  • Get creative! I’ll leave this one up to you.

Get Started With Small Goals

Am I all of a sudden going to knock out 10,000 steps tomorrow simply because I am more aware? No.

I will however take steps towards getting there. Concentrating on walking the dog a little further, taking computer breaks to walk outside for some fresh air, and fitting in a mini workout between boot camps instead of going to sit at my office (which I don’t have enough time to actually accomplish anything).

It would be so upsetting to look back over my life which I have always considered active, yet to realize I was just a couch potato. I’m sure you can relate?

How much time do you spend sitting? 


  • What a great post! So very important! I always used to think that because I am an elite athlete and I am so physically in shape that I was invincible from all health issues, but you are so right. That is such a small percentage of the day. Since learning about this, I have tried to move around more, even if it is just for a few minutes (as I am meant to rest a lot).

    Thanks for the tips, I am sure this will be an important read to many!

    • Thanks! I was the same way, thinking that my training was enough… but I know i should be up on my feet more often!

  • Oh my gosh, Kindal I know! I’ve been battling this currently. After my workouts I’m so tired I just want to sit all day! It’s especially been hard with snow and cold. I’ve definitely gained some hibernation weight! Been trying to come up with some good ways of getting out and about, besides shoveling snow and hauling firewood of course!

    • I can’t imagine being there! I would assume shoveling is quite the workout!

  • I spend way too much time sitting. I really like going for neighborhood strolls but it’s hard to make myself get out there when the weather is so cold. Instead I try to foam roll or do some pullups sporadically throughout the day.

    • The cold is such a pain! I am over the winter and ready for some spring heat! Pullups are what I should be doing!

  • that video cracks me up every time! i just starting wearing my jawbone UP again for steps. So needed!!!

    • I really need to get a jawbone! Let’s prancercize our way through the 200.

      • Johnsy

        I am so glad to have this article in fact i am big sitter i simply love ti sit today i started moving more just standing and spot walking. I am typing this and i am spot walking. I woke up today and immediately put on my pair of kicks. That is also helping me. Its like a remainder – get up and walk. Dont be stretched out in front of the TV

  • Sitting drives me nuts! I wish more employers supported standing desks.

  • Such an eye opening post! Having my own business and working from home, I never thought about how much time I spend sitting in front of the computer, TV, etc. Even at appointments, I sit a lot. I love the idea of putting my computer up high so I have to stand (and maybe get some squats in!), so I’m going to get on that right away! Plus, I will make it a point to stand and walk around at my appointments. Thanks so much!

    • Ohh squats and email should be a new fitness program! lol.

  • I can be sort of a couch potato too… even after a hard run or workout that morning, sometimes I just want to lay around! I do feel like workplaces and sitting jobs can be rough on people.

    My first job I had to commute an hour from my parents house to work that summer… then I sat all day long at the job. It was at an insurance processing center, so while I was a writer and could leave my desk and walk around a little, we still had very regimented breaks, etc. Only 30 minutes for lunch, and I was in training to begin with so I had to sit! Then, commute an hour home… I was too tired to work out (mostly mentally exhausted). It takes a toll on your body, not a good one. Commuting is rough too!

    Like I mentioned this morning, I am glad I live in a home with stairs. I automatically get a lot of stair workouts each day. I definitely saw a difference moving here, from a home without them to a home with them! Some of my coworkers at corporate actually take walks on breaks or do sets of stairs… walking up and down stairs 10 times. It is a pretty good workout and re-energizes you during the workday!

    • I think I need to start getting outside and walking up and down our condo stairs a few times!

  • Jeanette F

    I’ve used a Pomodoro Timer at work before. It gives you 25 minute to work and then a 5 or 15 minute break. I use the 5 minutes to walk down the stairs (4 flights) around the block and back up the stairs. If I do it all day I hit 10k + miles.

    • Jeanette F

      oops… i meant steps 🙂

    • thats awesome! Good idea!

  • I had no idea!! Crazy that just chillin’ out to watch TV after a long day and early to exercise was worse than smoking a cigarette! I love to take advantage of getting some planking and ab-work in while watching Castle, now I will make sure I do!! I will also make sure I put on my pedometer at work! Walk further, to get to the restroom, ETC.
    Thanks for your always timely information!

    • I def need to get a pedometer! Keep it up

  • It is scary how sitting affects us! BTW, the video was HILARIOUS!!!

  • Elizabeth

    It’s scary to think how much time the average person sits! When you add it up, that’s too much of your life! I got a desk job last year, sat down for months and was not pleased with the results. After having a retail job for 4 years, I needed change and decided to make my own standing desk with boxes. It’s not the best, but a girl’s gotta do, what a girl’s gotta do.

    • it’s very scary! We are working on standup desks too!

  • Meighan

    This is SO TRUE! I didn’t realize how little I actually walked until I got Jawbone UP. I used to think my daily workout was more than enough, but boy was I WRONG. Now I try to make a conscious effort to walk around more often, even if it is laps around my cubicle 🙂

    • Do you like the Jawbone? We’re thinking of either get it or the FitBit

  • Kim

    This is so very true. For Christmas I told Chris I wanted a small/portable standing desk – I love it. Now when I blog and it takes a minute to pull up a blog or post a comment I walk – pacing or circles – doesn’t matter. Since I’m already standing it is easier. I’ve been wearing a FitBit since the first of the year and rarely hit 10,000 steps (unless I run and count those steps!!!) – working on it!!!

    • A portable? Which one is it, we want stand up desks!

  • I make an effort to take the stairs, park far away, get up from my desk every hour or two… but I am sure its not enough. I used to take the subway to work and got in a lot of walking to & from. When I changed jobs and took the car I immediately put on 5 lbs !

    • Melissa

      I am in the same boat, Karen – just went fulltime in May 2013 and have gained a few lb’s as a result. Problem is, I am SO busy on the computer it is really difficult to leave my desk. I have so much to get done in a day… Not sure how to fix this problem. A stand-up desk would be out of the question. 🙁

      • I’m sorry Melissa! Would it be possible to walk at your lunch break?

    • I am sure that is quite the change! I would love it if I didn’t have to be in my car all the time

  • Great post! I’ve been getting in the habit of setting the timer on my phone to go off every hour as a reminder to get up and move, even if I just stand and stretch for a minute.

  • i teach fourth grade, so there’s not much sitting time throughout the day. plus, i workout in the morning, so my “sitting” time is limited to the evening when i try to still move! moving is best!!

    • Moving is the best! I give teachers and nurses the gold star for moving!

  • I spend soooo much time sitting and it really bugs me. I actually tend to be way more active on weekends because that’s when I’m around the house doing chores, out running errands, etc. I try to find excuses to move around at work but our office is also freezing and I have a heater at my my cubicle becomes my warm nook I don’t want to leave! Always good to have posts like this to remind me tho.

    • That’s why I actually love my “domestic duty” day. When I go grocery shopping, errands, and clean the house. I move so much more!

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  • I just turned my cubicle desk into a standing desk a couple of weeks ago, it’s taking some adjusting and bringing a set of sneakers with me to work every day, but I am hoping the benefits will outweigh the additional items and weird looks from co workers!

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