4 Serious Health Issues From Sitting Too Long & How To Avoid Them
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When you work at any job that requires long hours sitting at a computer – programming, accounting, writing – it is very easy to stay in that one position for eight to nine working hours every day.

Sure, you might get up for  a drink of water, a bathroom break, or for lunch, but I’m sure you can remember days when, before you knew it, you’d been sitting in that chair for two to four hours at a time. Deep down you know that sitting for such long period of time can’t be good, but really, how bad can it be?

I really started the long stretches at the computer starting at a very young age. I played video games as early as grade school, and did so for long hours into the night when I was in high school. Sitting for four or five hours straight during the weekend while playing an RPG was not unheard of. Time flies when you dive into those virtual worlds – it’s surreal sometimes.

I never really stopped to think what sort of damage I was doing to my body as a teenager. And once I graduated college and went to work as an engineer, I didn’t even consider what would happen to my body once I started sitting at a desk for almost eight hours every day – usually a couple of hours at one stretch before doing any walking.

Sure, the increasing waistline and tightening shirts after a year of full-time professional work gave me some clue what might be happening, but I figured once I started hitting the gym every day for an hour after work I could quickly handle that little problem.

Little did I know until many years later that not only was I making it biologically more difficult to lose weight later, but by allowing myself those long stretches at the desk, I was shortening my life by nearly seven years.

Killing Yourself by Sitting

You’re probably rolling your eyes and thinking to yourself, “Oh great, another article telling me how unhealthy it is to be sitting here reading this article.”

Look, I’m not about to start preaching turning off the computer and going for a long walk this very moment. I love computers. I don’t think I’ll ever quit sitting in front of a computer – but when you really start looking at the facts, it isn’t so much the fact that we’re all sitting in front of a computer, it’s the fact that we’re doing it for such long stretches of time without any break.

It’s important to understand just how seriously this behavior can affect you, because the threat is very real and it’s significant. There are four categories of health that studies show sitting too long can impact – cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

Overall – You’ll Die a Lot Earlier

Countless studies show time and time again that being physically inactive leads to a whole list of health problems that will kill you. Taking everything into account, the World Health Organization reports that being physically inactive comes in fourth as a leading risk factor for death. That’s Death with a capital D.

Just how much of a difference can it make? Well, a study published in the March 26th issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine found that after taking a sample of 200,000 people into account, there was a clear “association” between the act of sitting and “all-cause mortality”. Bottom line – sitting over eleven hours a day results in a 40 percent higher chance of dying from any cause at all. That’s crazy.

sitting too long

The WHO report mentioned above solidifies this finding. Inactivity was found to be the main cause of about a quarter of breast and colon cancers, 27 percent of diabetes cases, and 30 percent of heart disease cases.

The study in the Archives of Internal Medicine came from researchers at the University of Sydney, who reported that going to the gym or taking a walk is important, but prolonged sitting may actually be counteracting the health effects of that workout entirely.

Sit Too Long Can Increase Your Risk of Cancer

It seems like everything causes Cancer these days. Cellphones. Microwaves. Cat scans and X-Rays. But sitting?

Yup. Sitting increases your risk of getting cancer in a very big way.  The American Institute for Cancer Research held its annual conference early in 2012 and highlighted at that conference were specific research findings showing that 49,000 cases of breast cancer and 43,000 cases of colon cancer in the U.S. could be linked to inactivity.

sitting too long can kill you

It seems like such a cop-out doesn’t it? Like, researchers can’t find a specific correlation so they point at the fact that most of the people that got cancer sat around a whole lot. Well, good guess Sherlock, right? Well, not quite. Researchers, such as Dr. Christine Friedenreich, PhD, the leading epidemiologist at Alberta Health Services-Cancer Care who presented at the AICR conference, reported research results that physical activity may actually reduce inflammation linked to increased cancer risk.

The good news is that experts give you a very clear path to wipe out the risk starting right now. Take a break. The AICR responded directly to the research by urging readers to take a break from sitting every single hour – taking a couple of minutes to walk around, stretch, get a drink – whatever – can literally save your life.

There is a solid, proven benefit to taking those breaks. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) published its research findings in the European Heart Journal showing that for 4,757 participants in the study, short periods of light activity – even just a minute at a time – could reduce waistline, increase levels of good cholesterol, and even increase insulin resistance.  This is really serious stuff.

That Chair May Give You Diabetes and Heart Disease

Okay, so you know if you don’t give yourself at least a minute break every hour or so, you could be in for some trouble down the road with the C word, but is cancer the only concern (as though that’s not bad enough on its own)?

Well, unfortunately, Diabetes is the other risk factor when it comes to sitting around for hours at a time.

One study by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, took into account published scientific studies dating from 1970 all the way to 2011 and found that collectively, the data from those studies reveal a clear correlation between more than two hours of TV viewing time and risk factors for type 2 diabetes, as well as cardiovascular disease. The risk of heart disease increased by 15 percent. For diabetes, the risk increased by 20 percent for people that watched TV more than two hours a day. 20 percent!

sitting too long can kill you

Yet another published in the Journal of Applied Physiology in August of 2011 revealed that when people lower their activity from over 10,000 steps a day to less than 5,000 steps a day, physical changes in the body directly increase that person’s risk of type 2 diabetes.

Obviously, the opposite must hold true. If you get up from from that desk every 40 minutes and take a good 10 minute walk, and then take a nice 60 minute walk after work, the odds are pretty good that you could achieve a daily goal over 10,000 and significantly reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes.

There are many other studies, like the one out of the University of Mass at Amherst that showed that “1 day of sitting elicits large reductions in insulin action”, and another study from the University of South Carolina that found a direct correlation between time spent sitting and riding in a car, and cardiovascular disease death.

Sitting Too Long and Obesity

It should come as no surprise to anyone that if you sit too long during the day, you’ll get fat. So I’m not going to bore you with research that proves that, it’s pretty obvious. However, there was one particular study related to obesity and sitting too long that really threw me for a loop.

Clearly, the inactivity of sitting burns fewer calories and most people likely are not cutting down on calories just because they’re sitting so long (in fact, they’re probably snacking more), so that positive calorie balance will go directly to your bottom – or for some people, their spare tires.

But did you know that the mechanical pressure on your backside itself literally forces the cells in your fanny to transform into larger fat cells? Crazy right? It’s true.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University found that the preadipocyte cells, which are the cells in your body that turn into fat cells, will actually transform into fat cells faster when they are put under long periods of “mechanical stretching loads”.

sitting too long

This means – my dieting friends – that you can try and cut calories, but if you plan to continue sitting behind that desk for three or four hour stretches at a time without a single break, the odds are pretty good that you’re going to have some major junk in the trunk.

Unfortunately, the list doesn’t stop there. During my escapades through literary journals and University research websites, I discovered studies showing links between sitting too long and everything from increased risk of kidney disease, to a high risk for blood clots in the legs.  In fact, the blood clot issue related to excessive computer use is becoming known in medical circles as “e-thrombosis”.

So, now that you know sitting on that chair for several hours at a stretch is nearly as bad for your health as smoking, what are you going to do? I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to install an Android timer Use Your Android Tablet To Boost Your Desktop Computer at Work Use Your Android Tablet To Boost Your Desktop Computer at Work Android tablets have a ton of potential, with the ability to use bluetooth, wi-fi, awesome cameras on the front and back, a keyboard and mouse, and a small form-factor that make it highly portable. In... Read More on my tablet, set it to go off at work every 40 minutes, and take a 5 minute walk. It may not sound like much, but those breaks could literally save your life.

Another negative side effect of computer work is eye strain 5 Signs You Have Computer Eye Strain (And How to Relieve and Prevent It) 5 Signs You Have Computer Eye Strain (And How to Relieve and Prevent It) Computer eye strain is a real issue for up to 90 percent of heavy computer users. Here's everything you need to know about what it is and how to prevent it. Read More .

Image Credits: Fat Businessman via Shutterstock, Fat and Lazy via Shutterstock, Sitting Too Long via Shutterstock, Fat Driver via Shutterstock

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  1. Gary
    July 17, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    What if your wheelchair dependent?

  2. Gavin Mills
    April 30, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    I have long had an issue with sitting at computers - basically engaging in a computer's terms and developed what I call an ECEP (Ergonomic Computer Engagement Platform) You can see it at wew.sci-ryder.com. We believe it makes a difference. Would love comments...?

  3. Alma
    April 9, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    For all those people who work long hours sitting must or your day and do not have the luxury of taking breaks or leaving the work environment to enjoy a 5 -10 min walk on a regular basis, there is a new product call Work-N-Stretch, it's a resistance band assembly (three levels of strengths) attachable to your desk or lunch table that allows you to stretch, tone and strengthen your muscles from hips to toes. Best of all, it's discreet and will interfere with your work.

    • John
      April 9, 2015 at 7:21 pm

      I can use this......my legs get numb from sitting all day. If there was a way I could exercise my legs and work at my desk at the same time, that would be awesome.

  4. Gramma Kaye
    March 29, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    Contrary to what many people think, standing/walking all day can be as bad as sitting all day. Alan Hedge, who directs the Human Factors and Ergonomics research and teaching programs at Cornell University, states "Standing to work has long been known to be problematic. It is more tiring, it dramatically increases the risks of carotid atherosclerosis (ninefold) because of the additional load on the circulatory system, and it also increases the risks of varicose veins, so standing all day is unhealthy." The best thing is intermittent activity at regular intervals throughout the day. This would include stretches and exercise done right in your chair if you cannot leave your desk while at work.

  5. John Sorensen
    February 12, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    Fine article, but it does nothing for jobs where it is mandatory to be at a desk all day (call centers) and many jobs you get one lunch break and that is it.

  6. de java
    January 31, 2013 at 2:43 am

    All the 'productivity improvements" will go to med ins types... it's good for the 'conomy, like dying is.

  7. George Klein
    January 7, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    It is an undeniable fact that inactivity is unhealthy, but to put it almost at the same level with smoking is gross exaggeration (" sitting on that chair for several hours at a stretch is nearly as bad for your health as smoking"). Another quote: "The American Institute for Cancer Research held its annual conference early in 2012 and highlighted at that conference were specific research findings showing that 49,000 cases of breast cancer and 43,000 cases of colon cancer in the U.S. could be linked to inactivity."
    Would the Institute say that cancer COULD BE linked to smoking. No way. They would say that cancer IS DEFINITELY linked to smoking.
    There is a huge difference between "could be" and "is".
    So, let's be realistic. Inactivity is unhealthy, it should be avoided (I do), but it does not compare with the unhealthiness of smoking.

  8. himangshu
    November 17, 2012 at 1:37 am

    Man i'm done for. I'm gonna kill all rpg game makers.

  9. Nicole ?
    November 14, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    Being an I.T student I sit infront of the computer for many hours each day. I also do it at home and spend many hours playing video games. It's also scary to think about the amount of jobs which require sitting for long lengths of time ....

  10. ed little
    November 10, 2012 at 7:42 am

    My comment was NOT spam, Why do you block it and call it false names?

  11. Thor Heyerdahl
    November 10, 2012 at 6:39 am

    I hope you don't expect me to read all that extraneous text just to find the four dangers hidden in there do you?

    What if I read all that extra stuff and still don't find the dangerous four things? I will have high blood pressure and maybe a trip to jail for smashing my computer in the town square.

    How about just listing the four at the end or something. Thank you.

    • Ryan Dube
      November 10, 2012 at 1:48 pm

      Would you walk into an art gallery and tell a artist that you really don't like all of the extraneous colors they used, and you would prefer they would just draw stick figures and get it overwith?

      • Thor Heyerdahl
        November 15, 2012 at 11:42 pm

        So you think that burying the relevant needle of information
        in a hay stack of extraneous verbosity is an art form??

        i'm sorry but try as I might I just don't see it the same way.

        Thanks for sharing your opinion, now get to work with that red pencil..LOL

        • Ryan Dube
          November 16, 2012 at 12:38 am

          I think we have different definitions of what is relevant.

      • Thor Heyerdahl
        November 15, 2012 at 11:46 pm

        How come both attempts showed up on the forum? The first attempt

        had a wrong email address with it.

        So the email address is not really necessary to post? Did it get sent to a spammer for .05 cents? I guess I will soon find out.

        • Tina
          November 16, 2012 at 8:55 pm


          Not sure why your comment came through twice. I deleted the duplicate. When you log in as a guest, you can use any email address.

  12. Sirih Gratin
    November 6, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    like Michael implied I'm alarmed that people can profit $9804 in a few weeks on the computer. have you read this web page Fox92 DOtcom

  13. Diane R
    October 30, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    I use a sit-to-stand WorkFit A from Ergotron at work. I can sit or stand while I work and it's been wonderful. I feel better and don't have a sore back anymore. I have increased my standing portion of the day to `5 hours and it's really made a difference. I highly recommend this approach.

  14. Nikhil Chandak
    October 29, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    I go for a morning walk every day

  15. Lautice Colbert
    October 17, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Eeek ... I just dropped my chunky chocolate chip cookie ...

  16. Mark Smerdon
    October 17, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    I guess I better start walking or else.

  17. Harry Barnes
    October 17, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    oh dear...

  18. David Griffin
    October 17, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    the author has apparently never held a job where you have to stand all day long...

    i appreciate the office-chair zeal, now go stand all day every day for the next 15 years and see where you stand.

    standing all day is extremely hard on your body, bone structure, back, shoulders, lower back, hips, knees, ankles & feet, pretty much every single joint in your body wears out under your own weight from the effects of gravity...

    i'd like to see a study on who lives longer, people who stand all day long at work every single day of their weary lives, or people who are relaxed all day long in a comfortable reclining leather office chair

  19. Adrian Triminio
    October 17, 2012 at 5:17 am

    I installed a free timer by Grindstone that tells me to take a break every hour. However, I am going to follow your lead, Ryan, and reset it to 40 minutes and then take a 5 minute walk/stretch break.

    • David Griffin
      October 17, 2012 at 12:42 pm

      take a break fro sitting too long.. wow, you've really got it bad..

      wait.. whats that? its the sound of a small violin playing a very, very sad song for you...

      go trade jobs with someone who stands day after day their entire lives. they'd love to have your job where they get to sit in a comfortable plush leather executive office chair in the air conditioning..

      oh wait.. is that AC not good for you either? you really really have it bad.

    • David Griffin
      October 17, 2012 at 12:50 pm

      Man cannot dictate the terms of his life to his Creator.

      you'll die when you are ready to die, it could be tomorrow.

      you'll likely get hit by a truck or something for thinking you're gonna cheat the God of the Fates

      by the way.. did you run that "one 5 minute break every 40 minutes" by your boss?

      i think your days of worrying about sitting too long at your job are about over..

      now you can go get one of those super healthy manual labor jobs

  20. hannah brew
    October 16, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    Interesting article. I guess it's stuff we know we should all avoid anyway...

  21. Juan Pedro Secondo
    October 16, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    Having 42 I think I still have a chance to change some rutines.

    Great article. Frightening, but still great!!!

  22. Daniel Cantu
    October 16, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    I make it a point to drink water throughout the day resulting in several trips to refill the glass as well as to "download"...

  23. Athos Rache
    October 16, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    Is it about Sitting Too Long OR Obesity?

  24. john h pavelko
    October 16, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    What a lot of verbiage just to get to the most important part of the article

    So, now that you know sitting on that chair for several hours at a stretch is nearly as bad for your health as smoking, what are you going to do? I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to install an Android timer on my tablet, set it to go off at work every 40 minutes, and take a 5 minute walk. It may not sound like much, but those breaks could literally save your life.

  25. Ana Georgievska
    October 16, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    has anyone tried FitDesk!From the videos I watched, think it might help a lot

  26. Edward Bellair
    October 16, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    The pics you show are on the large size. Also employers are pushing employees to do more with less, so your employer is killing you slowly. Just out of curiosity is there anything left on this planet that is safe?

  27. Saeef Alam
    October 16, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    I keep telling myself I'll fix my habits but nooo. Same old slump-on-bed routine all day.

  28. John Brenner
    October 16, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Being (mostly) deskbound does not mean doomed. Personally, I can't abide sitting all day. Drives me crazy. I am up and moving constantly. While it may seem counterproductive, it honestly helps me to focus for a longer time if I do things in smaller sections. ADD? Maybe. ADHD? Also possible. But I have found what works for me. Still not as healthy as I would like to be, but that prolly has more to do with my inability to be away from a comp for too long.....

  29. Pwince Khan
    October 16, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    from the risk factor..seems like the guy with risk factor very low sits only 1 time per 24 hour lol

  30. Henry Ward
    October 16, 2012 at 8:53 am

    We obviously need to go retro and have computers that fill entire rooms. That way, we'd have to walk around just to use them.

  31. Anonymous
    October 15, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    You can't kill me... I am already dead...

  32. Jorge Perez
    October 15, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    WALK AROUND PEOPLE! I spend alot of time sitting down at work but i try to make it up by working out at least 3 times a week. I think chairs should be replaced with medicine balls...they are fun and wayyy better for you back!

  33. Aibek Esengulov
    October 15, 2012 at 11:37 am

    test comment!

  34. Ursula
    October 15, 2012 at 10:05 am

    This was a brilliant article and I found it very helpful. Thanks, Ursula

  35. Timothy Clark
    October 14, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Words of wisdom, for many I know, Sure I sit in front of this computer too much, but I'm no where near the size of anyone in the photos in the article. Though, I already know I need to start my exercise routine back again! Keep on the good work MUO!!!

  36. Anonymous
    October 14, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    ohhh THats the serious problem :(

  37. James Free
    October 14, 2012 at 2:56 am

    I raised my monitor 17" off the desk. It is now more comfortable to view it and use the computer while standing rather than sitting. Thanks for the great article!

    • Mark Alsisto
      October 14, 2012 at 2:02 pm

      next article will be "the risk of standing too long"... :)

      • Adrian Rea
        October 15, 2012 at 8:55 am

        There is a r

      • Adrian Rea
        October 15, 2012 at 8:56 am

        There is a risk of standing too log, it can cause back ache, spinal deformities etc. The best thing is to have a range of activities throughout the day.

  38. Steve Taylor
    October 14, 2012 at 1:58 am

    Scary stuff! I started exhibiting symptoms of type II diabetes about 10 years ago. I am a mechanical engineer, now 48 years old, and I am one of the first of millions in the grand experiment that is the computer age. My dad bought an Apple II (serial #10,000 something) in seventh grade and, with the expandable RAM option maxed out at a whoppng 16kb (!), I was able to use the "monitor" (a color tv - without a remote) in high resolution mode. I had to load things into vector "shape tables" and translate manually into assembly language. This was a painstaking process that I was more than willing to stay up and perform day and night over my weekends and school vacations when I should have been outside playing B-ball or whatever.
    Whild I haven't had a problem keeping weight off, the damage has been done as I am losing weight rapidly and cannot seem to gain it back. I guess I'll have to double up the amount of time I spend on the internet looking for a solution!

  39. J. Alexandre Gruss
    October 14, 2012 at 1:52 am

    Stand UP for your health

  40. Anonymous
    October 13, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    You sure got my attention! I was a very active person for most of my life! But after kids starting leaving the nest, and I began to do more work at the keyboard, I began to feel the effects of long-term sitting! Mine showed up in high blood pressure, higher than normal cholesterol and more weight than I had ever carried! Thank God I have seen the effects early enough to do something about it! Thank you guys, great article!

  41. daniloco
    October 13, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Ryan, if you're using Windows or Linux you don't need an Android tablet.
    I'm currently using Workrave (http://www.workrave.org/), an application that signals when to take rests to avoid RSI.
    It's open source.

  42. Altra Attestor
    October 13, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    I think I have a lot of activity.

  43. Adrian Rea
    October 13, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    if you want to lose weight, I can recommend a quick starter of the alternate day fasting diet. I lost a stone in the first monthe, the trick is then to get physical to burn off more.

  44. Mansukhlal Kakkad
    October 13, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Very Very useful article

  45. Spesh
    October 13, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    I don't eat meat, so I can't gain weight and obviously, I don't eat fried foods either,

    • Ryan Dube
      October 13, 2012 at 3:53 pm

      You don't eat pasta, dairy products or grains?

    • Alma
      April 9, 2015 at 2:39 pm


      With all due respect, a cow eats nothing but grass and it's still fat. Our bodies are meant to be moving in order to keep them healthy both, physical and mentally.

  46. Sam Kar
    October 13, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Thanks for the article. Nice read.
    I have been sitting for really long hours, but will try to take breaks. In fact my physio suggested to take break after every 30minute, but I have been ignoring all way.

    After reading this article and risks of long sitting hours I will definitely try to to take break quite often and make it a habit.

    Once again a Big Thanks.

  47. Raj Sarkar
    October 13, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    I am dead. :/

    • Ryan Dube
      October 13, 2012 at 12:29 pm

      Hey - so long as you're alive right now, there's time to turn things around. There's always hope! :-)

  48. Aibek Esengulov
    October 13, 2012 at 11:08 am

    great post, Ryan!

  49. Nick Daws
    October 13, 2012 at 8:12 am

    Useful reminder, but it only refers to work. What about people whose leisure activities involve long periods of sitting? For example, do movie fans - who may sit and watch films up to 3 hours long - have higher rates of these diseases as well? I think we should be told!

    • Ryan Dube
      October 13, 2012 at 12:31 pm

      Same goes - for example the article mentioned one study that looked at truck drivers, and other studies focused generally on inactivity regardless of what activity involved the required sitting. So, yes, any frequent activity that requires 3 or more hours of sitting without a break can have serious impact on health. Great point to bring up - thank you!

      • franc
        October 15, 2012 at 11:24 pm

        do you feel any inclination to cite these 'studies'? So that we can all have our own take on them.

        • Ryan Dube
          October 16, 2012 at 1:15 am

          Yes, links to all studies used in this article are linked to within the article itself.

  50. Ian Leong
    October 13, 2012 at 7:08 am

    Well. I'm glad that this article is here to remind us of not putting our butt on the chair fo too long. Anyway, a good reminder for us! :D

  51. Judy Weismonger
    October 13, 2012 at 7:03 am

    This is total crap. My grandmother and many of her relatives were hugely over weight. My grandmother was 5' tall and weighed over 200 lbs, and never exercised a day in her life. She sat. And she lived to be 96 years of age. what killed her was the nursing home putting her on a diet to make her lose weight.

    Total crap...how long you live is genetic.

    • Ryan Dube
      October 13, 2012 at 12:35 pm

      Anecdotal evidence of one person is not more accurate than studies that look at thousands of people. Those studies develop percentages - your grandmother landed on the good side of the coin in spite of her lack of exercise, which is great. But you also have to remember this article isn't about exercising or about weight. It's about long periods of sitting. Do you know for certain your grandmother sat for long periods of time? Or did she spend plenty of her time standing and cooking for kids, cleaning the house, etc? Women in her generation rarely sat for long, overweight or not.

      It's simply about how long you leave your body inactive - this isn't about exercising or being overweight. Just getting up and moving every now and then can help you live a longer life. I think there are now enough studies that prove that - the ones mentioned in this article are just the tip of the iceburg.

  52. Mac Witty
    October 13, 2012 at 6:51 am

    Alternative to chair is of course to stand and work. Just recently I heard someone who use an exercise ball (aka balanc or Pilates ball) as a chair as it makes you both sit "right" and make some small, micro, move all the time. Have tried it out and it makes me fell less tired at the end of the day

    • Ryan Dube
      October 13, 2012 at 12:35 pm

      I know someone that uses the ball, I think that's a great idea because it keeps those leg muscles active. A standing desk is a great idea too.

  53. Jacob Mathew
    October 13, 2012 at 6:03 am

    Now you have said it I won't risk it.

  54. Keith Swartz
    October 13, 2012 at 5:56 am

    Working on the computer as MUCH as some of us do [when I point 1 finger at you, I have 4 pointing back at me!!], means we really NEEDED to read this. I for one KNOW that I DID! Thanks for this, MakeUseOf!

    • Ryan Dube
      October 13, 2012 at 12:37 pm

      Thanks Keith - I needed it more than anyone, that's for sure. And for me, having kids to live for is a great motivator to start getting up and moving more. It's so important when inactivity can be as hazardous to our health as smoking.

  55. John Monsant
    October 13, 2012 at 4:29 am

    Further to my comment "Go Vegan & take your dog for a good long walk everyday!" ...
    Here are 3 great books you should get in order to take control of your health ...
    "The Starch Solution" by John A. McDougall,M.D.
    "Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease" by Caldwell B. Esselstyn,Jnr, MD
    "The HIGH Blood Pressure SOLUTION" by Richard D. Moore, M.D, Ph.D
    and an Australian website http://www.doctorsaredangerous.com
    All 3 books mentioned above can be purchased through Amazon.com
    Also, Dr Caldwell B. Esselstyn,Jnr, MD has a 2 dvd set on "Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease"

  56. Jeff Clotfelter
    October 13, 2012 at 3:56 am

    Thank you for writing this article. I'll consider it a well placed kick in the expanding butt!

  57. John Monsant
    October 13, 2012 at 3:09 am

    Go Vegan & take your dog for a good long walk everyday!

    • Ryan Dube
      October 13, 2012 at 12:38 pm

      Thanks John - that's certainly something to consider! Believe it or not though, even people that are Vegan and take their dog for a walk once a day - if they still sit for many hours at a time each day, these studies show that they cancel out the health benefits of a single exercise episode (although any exercise each day is still better than nothing!)

  58. Ajarn Donald
    October 13, 2012 at 12:57 am

    This is a very good story about a very serious health problem. I am 51 and I am going to change my 10-hours a day at my computer habit right now.

  59. randy
    October 12, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    wow, I has bad habit-who knew ? , not do I start walking. I got to start talking my dog for walk and play time.

  60. Ramon Fletcher
    October 12, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    People put so much emphasis on diet when the simple solution is to be more active. Great article

    • fatbloater
      October 12, 2012 at 9:49 pm

      Well, I've done all of those things since age 5, been obese etc, still am. sititng many hours due to gaming after work yes, fat butt, yeah, but not as bad as some.
      Clots.......no. varicose veins developing......yep...

      Diabetes, insulin issue, not noticeable.

      Age 38. So, I am contrary to all that research.

      However, don't get me wrong, my take home message is, don't take the chance as you only get one body. :) Keep it going and make sure your fat assed kids move around more. However, its far easier to watch what you put in food than to try and burn it off :)

      • Ryan Dube
        October 13, 2012 at 12:40 pm

        Absolutely - and it's never too late. I'm in the same situation as you, except I haven't had any negative health impact yet - but I'm sure it's coming. The weight has started climbing, but it's never, ever, ever too late to start making that change. If you're not dead, you have hope. Good luck and I'd love to hear if increased activity made any positive impact on your health - let us know!

  61. Steve Sawyer
    October 12, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    Good points.

    Two issues - first, I need some kind of reminder to get up and move regularly. I've tried to set the timer on my phone, but I'd forget to set it every morning, and even when I did, I'd turn it off during the first meeting of the day, then forget to turn it back on. I'm going to try to put in a recurring task into outlook or something.

    Second, I wonder if it is possible to compensate for long hours at the desk? I have three one-hour aerobic/strength-training classes each week in cold weather, and bike from 3-8 hours a week when it's warm. Would this compensate for the sedentary nature of my work, or are there other negative health effects from sitting all day - other than being a bit stiff when you finally DO get up!!

    • Ryan Dube
      October 13, 2012 at 12:42 pm

      According to at least one of the studies I read, the researchers found that obviously exercise can improve health, but if you are inactive for long periods then you're still getting some negative impact from that. Basically, they're just saying to negate the effects of long hours at the desk (and keep the benefits of your exercise), just move a little every hour - all it requires is 5 minutes or so of walking, and then you don't have to worry about hurting your health from all that sitting - especially if you exercise as much as you do outside of work (which is fantastic, by the way!)

  62. Jimmy
    October 12, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Another excellent article from Make Use Of - up to
    the usual very high standard.
    I beg every reader - and that includes me - to heed it - it could be a lifesaver!

  63. Mark Bromberg
    October 12, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    Ryan: Getting up from your computer to walk around for X minutes is the best thing you can do, but in lieu of that, any break in the repetitive sedentary desktop work is the next best thing. There is a great program called the Office Athlete (www.officeathlete.com) that times your work and even counts your keystokes to remind you to take breaks. If you can not get up, it has videos of stretches you can do in you chair.

    • Ryan Dube
      October 13, 2012 at 12:42 pm

      Cool heads-up Mark, thank you. I'll have to check that one out, it sounds cool.

  64. Nicholas Sterling
    October 12, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    Close to 20 years ago I made myself a makeshift stand-up desk at work because I noticed that I just could not stop myself from slouching at the computer and I figured that that just could *not* be a good thing. Gradually it got easier to stand for long periods, and now I rarely sit. Good sandals help. I made myself a stand-up desk out of an old roll-top by putting the monitors on the high part in the back and putting the keyboard on a stand -- works great. Between the stand-up desk and working from home with the cat on my desk, life is good. Thanks for this article.

  65. Dave Posh
    October 12, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    A stand up desk can make a big difference. I switch to one two months ago.

  66. Donna Walter
    October 12, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    My cooking, office, and computer space has a 37"h x 5' drafting table.I spend several chair hours a day here. Chose an ergonomic drafting table height "Swing Chair". Requires muscle involvement with full lumbar support for movement in comfort.

  67. Alex Perkins
    October 12, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    What about students? We have to sit around in classes for a total of 5 hours or so. We walk to each class but that's only 2 minutes, are we screwed?

    • Ryan Dube
      October 13, 2012 at 12:44 pm

      No - since you're walking between classes, which I assume are around 1 to 2 hours max each, you're fine. Even that two minutes of vigorous walking as you rush between classes gets that blood flowing in your legs, through your heart and the rest of your body enough to cancel out the negative effects described in these studies. Just keep it up throughout the rest of your life after school is done and you'll do great.

      • Alex Perkins
        October 13, 2012 at 1:49 pm

        Yay! Thanks for replying and a great article.

  68. Anonymous
    October 12, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Ok. You have convinced me. I will take breaks more often.

  69. Stephen
    October 12, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Height adjustable workstations are becoming more and more popular. Yes they are expensive but well worth the money in the long run. We offer a height adjustable table with an elliptical machine. Its quite safer than the treadmills that people use at the workstation. [Broken Link Removed]

    • Ryan Dube
      October 13, 2012 at 12:45 pm

      I'm really starting to give the exercise desk a shot (and maybe write about the experience). It sounds like a brilliant solution.

  70. Anonymous
    October 12, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    I have cultivated myself a habbit of not sitting more than 2 hours continously...

  71. Baba
    October 12, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    people wont change, even if they read this article or not
    only 2 things will change them
    something bad happening (which could just cause to get even worse) or having a reason; something that they want more than sitting for 11 hours.
    could be new love, could be job, could be child
    but most of those people will not change; not because they are bad and lazy people, but they have lost the purpose, and since our food now acts as substitute cocaine, the gratification we get from high fat/sugar content foods gives us pleasures like working out, having sex or being on a team
    plain and simple, although brute, i am not wrong!

    • Ryan Dube
      October 13, 2012 at 12:46 pm

      I agree - for me, it's the idea of not being here for my kids. Everyone needs a motivation to make change in their life, no matter who they are. I don't think they're bad people - I think this is just how people are today in the world. It's very hard to change any habit that you've developed over time - everyone needs motivation.

    • Pwince Khan
      October 16, 2012 at 1:44 pm

      atleast this article will hit their minds while sitting for a long time and then they will walk and come back again...this hitting mind and walking for a few min can change many thing even the risk factor...
      and if this article can change one mind then atleast it has motivated someone...

  72. dave harper
    October 12, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    so, i'm stuck in a wheelchair , have been for 4 years, can't walk or move a lot. all exercise is upper body. When should i have died of cance? oh yes i am 10st 10lb

    • Ryan Dube
      October 13, 2012 at 12:49 pm

      Hey Dave - I think for wheelchair bound folks, a whole different set of studies is required. I suspect that the upper body activity you describe is enough to get your blood flowing and negate the effects of overall inactivity. As far as health effects of being wheelchair bound and how much body-percentage movement is needed to be considered non-inactive, is a very specialized question that probably goes outside the scope of the studies listed in this article. However, I suspect that upper body exercise is sufficient. Thanks for the comment Dave!

  73. shahbaz Khan
    October 12, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    i go to college in the morning, when i come back at 2;00 pm after 6 hours in college, i sit down in front of my desktop, and spent almost 7-8 hours in front of computer without any break, constantly, but the question is, dafuq makes me stop from being fat :O i am still a skinny boy of 18, if sitting could make you fat, than i am supposed to be big show right now, but i am very skinny :O what to do now?

    • Ryan Dube
      October 13, 2012 at 12:51 pm

      It's not so much about weight, it's about what's going on inside. I know thin folks that have had heart attacks or diabetes. And in college, your metabolism is so high that you aren't likely to get fat very easily. Avoiding long sessions of inactivity at your age will simply help you to avoid getting into the habit when you're older, and it'll also very likely extend the age that you have to deal with all of those health problems like diabetes, cancer, etc... Thanks for the question!

  74. Sean King
    October 12, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Stand Up Desk!

  75. Elena Sicconi
    October 12, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    I hate thinking about this. Especially since the most common reason for my getting up from my desk and walking is to go outside to smoke...

    • Ryan Dube
      October 13, 2012 at 12:52 pm

      Elena, that's kind of funny. I know it shouldn't be, but I suppose you aren't alone, so it's a good thing to mention. There's also the other side of it where people get up simply to walk over to the fridge to get something to eat....

      • Elena
        October 13, 2012 at 8:56 pm

        oh! it IS funny, I'll admit it myself. :)

  76. Tom
    October 12, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    I got two lap top stands. One raises my keyboard from desk to elbow height; the other raises my screen to eye height. Now I don't sit down at all except to eat lunch. Total cost about £80.

  77. Michele King
    October 12, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    I read this a while ago so I installed a treadmill desk in my office. I made it myself out of an inexpensive treadmill and some shelf boards. I find that it is not that easy to walk and type, but I can walk and read. Often I just stand on it while I do my work. I set up two keyboards so I can spend part of the day at the desk. I really feel better when I stand for at least half the day!

    • Ryan Dube
      October 13, 2012 at 12:53 pm

      Thanks Michele - I've heard that it gets easier to use a treadmill and use a computer the longer that you use it. I hope that's the case because I'm thinking of building one myself, so it's nice to hear from someone that has already tried it.

  78. Sheeva
    October 12, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    I didn't subscribe to this site to be lectured on health matters. I'm so sick and tired of the constant berating of those who "think" they know best. I'm so over this "nannyism" that's even crept into areas that have no business dictating/lecturing on the subject. Don't do it again.

    • bstanleypa
      October 12, 2012 at 4:59 pm

      Hmmm.... being against a nanny state that legislates what you can and can't do based on somebody's opinions or current conception of what is and isn't healthy is one thing, but not wanting to hear any pertinent facts or scientific studies smells like head-in-the-sand "don't tell me the truth, I don't want to hear it".
      Obviously the group interested in MakeUseOf includes many people who use computers for many long hours per day (I can certainly think of numerous programming sessions where I didn't move out of my chair for hours on end), and I think it is great and highly relevant to have this information posted in this forum.

    • wolfshades
      October 12, 2012 at 8:56 pm

      Or.....you could just ignore those articles that annoy you, instead of attempting to act as censor for the rest of us.

    • Ryan Dube
      October 13, 2012 at 12:55 pm

      Sheeva - I know it can be frustrating to read things like this, so I won't fault you for your negative response. And - just to be clear - I don't know any better than you or anyone else reading this article. That's what the studies are for. It's important to research the scientific facts, and then all we can do at that point is explain them simply. Once people have the truth, it's up to them to do with it whatever they will. If it works best for you to ignore it, that's your right.

      • aswathR
        October 14, 2012 at 3:45 am

        well,i guess a recliner would distribute stress evenly across your entire back,if u are working on a laptop,in case you have fat arses
        DISCLAIMER:I am not responsible if you get fired for dozing off in the middle of your work :P
        tablets may be a better alternative for laptops,if you are just browsing or doing something less significant,coz they provide better mobility...

    • Mitesh Budhabhatti
      October 16, 2012 at 12:39 pm

      I really liked this article. MUO is the perfect blend of anything that is related to technology. You can just ignore this if this is not of interest to you.

    • Pwince Khan
      October 16, 2012 at 1:40 pm

      site is called makeuseof.com...so this article is dealing with how to make use of your body and in the mean time they are describing the side affects if you dont make use of your body and just sit around...

  79. Akshay Ganesh
    October 12, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Great Article!
    Could you write a about the dangers of staring into a screen for a long time?Thanks

    • Ryan Dube
      October 13, 2012 at 12:55 pm

      Akshay - great idea!

  80. Harish Jonnalagadda
    October 12, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Sigh.. Guess I finally have to start working out.

    • Mark
      February 6, 2015 at 10:43 pm

      yea me too!

  81. Brad Rhoads
    October 12, 2012 at 5:10 am

    Get on a treadmill desk and join our community of treadmill desk users at [Broken Link Removed]

  82. Eath Chantrea
    October 12, 2012 at 4:23 am

    Thank unnoticeable issue we have been facing.

  83. Catherine McCrum
    October 12, 2012 at 4:20 am

    Scarry, with so many jobs requiring either standing in one spot or sitting for your whole shift it sure stacks the odds against you. For me, I am going to be more physical on my breaks, lunch and after work -- I don't want cancer!

    • Sheldon
      October 16, 2012 at 6:07 pm

      I would also suggest that if you choose to be active, you might want to incorporate some of your activities with good old fresh air.

      Below is a url to a search result containing some rather interesting info on the possible correlation between sunlight (VitD) and lower rates of cancer.

      [Broken Link Removed]

      I am also of the opinion that we need to revisit our grocery lists. My personal research suggests that the processed foods we eat are a serious detriment to health. Once you begin doing your own research, you might be surprised just how many of the foods you consume are in fact processed and actually not fit for human consumption. Here is a shortened link to a fantastic diagram showing how to successfully navigate your local super-market:


      You are what you eat is not just an expression.

      The young scientist, Darya Pino, who created the "navigate your super-market diagram, has a great food blog you may be interested in. It's packed full of good advice and suggestions for a healthier diet.


  84. Dave Parrack
    October 11, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    Ryan, how on earth did you get all those pictures of me?!

    • Ryan Dube
      October 12, 2012 at 12:21 am

      Actually, the guy eating fries was me obviously, but yeah, I had Mark place spy cameras all throughout your house so we could capture you lounging around watching TV. :-)

  85. Yash Desai
    October 11, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    uh... I better go for a walk.

  86. Richard Steven Hack
    October 11, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    Well - I guess I'm dead... :-)

    • Ryan Dube
      October 12, 2012 at 12:22 am

      Haha...same here. Get that walking regimen going!

      • Roi Ezekiel Arcega
        October 13, 2012 at 5:00 pm