4 Serious Health Issues From Sitting Too Long (And How to Avoid Them)

Philip Bates Updated 05-07-2019

Many of us have jobs that require us to stay in one position for long hours. Though you may get up for lunch, drinks, or the restroom, it’s too easy to sit down for long periods of time. We can’t solely blame careers either: look at how addictive gaming can be.


But we all know that leading a sedentary lifestyle can have negative impacts on our health. So what happens to our bodies when we’re inactive? What are the side effects of sitting for too long? And what can you do to stay active?

Can Sitting Down Increase the Risk of Early Death?

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that being physically inactive accounts for 6 percent of deaths globally. That might not sound much, but it’s the fourth leading risk factor for mortality.

It’s the main cause of up to 25 percent of breast and colon cancers, 27 percent of diabetes cases, and 30 percent of heart disease cases.

Of course, some studies are based on observation only, seeing correlations but not always causation. The sick, for example, are more likely to rest for hours on end. Others do take this into account. Nonetheless, the death of around 70,000 UK residents each year are attributed to sitting or lying down for too long.

Why Is Sitting Too Long Bad for You?

This might initially seem obvious. Indeed, many studies gloss over this. Many consider that inactivity is bad for you for exactly that reason: you’re not engaging in an activity.


However, that’s ignoring other potential explanations. For instance, snacking while watching TV or playing games means you can pile on the pounds and not sweat them off. When you sit down, your body’s ability to burn off energy slows to one calorie per minute—that’s about a third compared to a casual walk.

lying down in bed

As the electrical activity in your muscles drop, so does the production of enzymes that make lipids and triglycerides, which attack fatty cells in your blood. Obviously, your metabolism plays a big part in this too.

It’s a vicious cycle. If you suffer from ill-health, you’ll likely spend more time lying or sitting down. The more you sit down, the less motivated you are to move about, meaning you sit down even longer.


When you spend six hours a day sitting down, your oxygen consumption levels decrease, making simple exercises tougher.

But there are a few things you can do to counteract inertia, including using workout generators to exercise 5 Free Exercise and Workout Generators for Better Routines Any exercise routine can get boring. Let's fix that with a few randomized workout generators for different types of exercises. Read More . Or just start small by taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Remember, your reluctance to take action can trigger a lot of problems.

4 Serious Health Risks of Inactivity

So what are the health risks of sitting too long at a desk all day? Here’s just a small sample.

1. Diabetes

diabetic test kit glucose insulin


Insulin is the hormone that helps your body burn sugar and carbohydrates for energy. Inactivity negatively affects hormone levels (which further impacts your immune system).

It’s unusual for anyone to spend 24 hours sitting down. However, if you do, insulin’s effectiveness drops by 24 percent. It’s not solely lengthy spells like that which affect you though.

The average person sits down for 8 hours a day. But let’s optimistically posit that you spend 6 hours a day seated. It’s a fair estimate if you work in an office environment. Similarly, if you watch TV, play games, or use the PC when you get home. Within two weeks of doing this, your body’s resistance to insulin increases.

The physical reaction to this is weight gain. The hidden cost is higher blood sugar levels, which can result in Type 2 diabetes.


The opposite is also true. A 2016 issue of Diabetes Care reported spending three minutes moving after sitting down for 30 minutes improves blood glucose levels.

2. Blood Clots

A pooling of blood, often due to inertia, puts pressure on your veins, which can become misshapen. Superficial swellings are known as varicose veins, which looks like spider’s webs across your skin. Symptoms include an aching or a feeling of heaviness in limbs. These aren’t generally too serious.

However, venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a greater concern.

VTE is a restriction of blood flow due to clots. The most common form is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), associated in your extremities, including in your arms. You’ll have heard of DVT in relation to vacations as some suffer from it during long flights.

In rare cases, this can develop into a Pulmonary Embolism (PE), when a clot dislodges and travels to your lungs. Obviously, this is a life-threatening illness.

A surprising example of this came to light after the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake in Japan. Those fleeing the crisis spent considerable time in their cars: 82 percent of the 51 hospitalized evacuees reported blood clotting issues. 35 of these patients suffered from PE.

3. Heart Disease

candy cane love

It goes without saying that something which affects your blood can also impact your heart.

Diabetes typically increases the level of “bad” cholesterol in your body, which in turn can increase the risk of heart disease. But regardless of blood sugar levels, sitting too long can still lead to heart problems. Just 2 hours after sitting down, the level of “good” cholesterol in your blood drops by 20 percent.

Watching TV for 3 hours or more each day makes you 64 percent likelier to die from heart disease.

Links between sitting all day at your desk and premature death were established in the 1950s. Bus drivers in London were twice as likely to suffer heart attacks than the vehicles’ conductors. But it obviously remains a huge problem.

Coronary heart disease accounts for some 700,000 deaths annually in the US, making it the country’s leading cause of death. It’s further estimated that 35 percent of these deaths are due to sedentary lifestyles.

What’s more, those with heart disease are more likely to be inflicted by depression too. It’s no wonder, then, that physical inactivity can lead to suicide. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Paula Clayton MD, says:

“90 percent or more of people who kill themselves have a mental disorder before the time of their death. 60 percent have major depression.”

4. Osteoporosis

If you’ve sat in an uncomfortable chair for ages, you’ll be familiar with back and neck pain. This is often due to the disks between the vertebrae losing their softness, resulting in misalignment of bones in your spine.

You might’ve traded that lumpy seat for a more ergonomic one. Yes, you’re limiting the damage, but your back muscles and spine will nonetheless be impacted by inactivity.

That’s because sitting all day affects your skeleton. For some, this can lead to osteoporosis, i.e. weakened bones.

Your bones constantly renew themselves: essentially, old bones are reabsorbed and replaced. But as you get older, your bone mass decreases faster than it’s rejuvenated.

An average person loses 1 percent bone density each year after reaching peak production in their early 20s. Inactivity means bone mass will decrease at a greater rate than that as oxygen consumption drops. Your bones receive about 10 percent of cardiac output and use oxygen in your blood to repair and replace.

The main adage to take from this is: “Use it or lose it.” Even if you’re not feeling the effects now, you may when you get older.

What Can You Do to Counter Negative Effects?

stretching exercising running forest woods

There’s lots of conflicting evidence, sadly, but there remains positive news too.

Dr. Levine, a researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, coined the term, Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT). It demonstrates how small everyday movements can counteract an otherwise sedentary lifestyle.

Studies assert that moving every 30 minutes can dramatically cut the risk of premature death from inertia.

It doesn’t mean you have to go for a run. You need “moderate exercise”, i.e. the equivalent of a brisk walk. Your daily errands add to your step count, so cleaning the kitchen helps. So does bathroom breaks and heading to the water cooler. You can use apps to help combat pain from bad posture 5 Apps to Improve Your Posture and Fix Back or Neck Pain Personal technology wrecks havoc on your body. If you suffer from back and neck pain, improve your posture with these apps and tools. Read More and remind you to limber up every half hour.

You need to do something that burns more calories than sitting down—and yes, that includes merely standing up. It’s about breaking your day up.

The US Department of Health advises us to take 10,000 steps a day. It’s an achievable goal which is further enforced by health services like Fitbit. If you can’t make it to 10,000 steps, increasing your average step count, even by small increments, is a solid idea. You could walk to work; spend an hour each week gardening; or talk face-to-face, rather than by email.

What if you’re going on vacation?

Take regular breaks when driving. You can typically walk down the aisle on an airplane too. Still, drinking plenty of water is very important as dehydration can lead to blood clots. Buy support socks and try to move in whatever ways you possibly can. Simply moving your ankles in circular motions regularly can help.

How to Start Toward a Healthier Lifestyle

The American Journal of Epidemiology published an analysis of over 127,000 adults in the USA over a 21-year period. It found a troubling list of illnesses as effects of sitting all day, including cancer; strokes; kidney, lung, and liver disease; Parkinson’s disease; and Alzheimer’s disease.

It sounds scary. But don’t approach achieving a fit and healthy work lifestyle 5 Apps for Office-Goers Who Want a Fit and Healthy Work Lifestyle It's easy to overlook how your work takes a toll on your health. These five apps ensure you can work hard while staying healthy. Read More as a big hurdle. These are brief interruptions to processes that are damaging your body. Good health isn’t the only boon: some apps reward you for a healthy lifestyle too 6 Websites and Apps That Reward You for Being Healthy Staying motivated to get fit can be hard, but with these apps and websites, you'll get rewarded for eating right, exercising, and losing weight. Read More .

Image Credit: Matej Kastelic/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 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 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 (, 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 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
    All 3 books mentioned above can be purchased through
    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. 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 ( 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 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 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