Can Sitting Really Kill You? The American Heart Association Has Some Shocking News

Screentime, binge watching Netflix, eating, even working. Whether sitting for work or for fun, according to the American Heart Association, any sitting can kill you. In a recent report, the AHA claimed that sitting too long can be the cause of heart disease and diabetes. Their only solution is to sit less and move more.

In writing about the dangers of sitting, Deborah Rohm Young, of Kaiser Permanente in Southern California, wrote that the evidence is not conclusive. Instead, they suggest that sitting will increase the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

“The evidence to date is suggestive, but not conclusive, that sedentary behavior contributes to cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk.”

Sedentary behavior includes sitting, reclining, or lying down while awake, as well as watching television, reading, or engaging in any sort of computer work. While light housework and leisurely walking means more movement, neither are considered the required vigorous activity needed to stay healthy.

Young and the other authors were also cautious in pointing out that while inactivity is associated with health issues, there is no direct evidence that inactivity will cause cardiovascular disease.

“Despite these potentially relevant findings on how physical inactivity can be associated with biological dysregulation, we do not have direct evidence that this leads to cardiovascular disease.”

Writing in the journal Circulation, the group identified how physical inactivity affects how the body uses insulin to covert food to glucose.

“There are clearly physiological changes that occur when physically active individuals become inactive.”

She went on to make the easier said than done suggestion: sit less, move more.

“Given the current state of the science on sedentary behavior and in the absence of sufficient data to recommend quantitative guidelines, it is appropriate to promote the advisory, ‘Sit less, move more.'”

The recipe for moving more includes a brisk walk of 30 minutes per day. This appears to be a very generic remedy and does not really take into account someone who may work in a call center and only has three minutes per hour to get up and move around. Nor does it identify the proper amount of movement for someone who is sitting six hours a day watching television from someone who is sitting for 15 hours a day working on a computer or playing video games. There may not be a difference as it appears that heart and blood vessels are affected by general, prolonged sedentary time.

“Regardless of how much physical activity someone gets, prolonged sedentary time could negatively impact the health of your heart and blood vessels.”

Young admits that there are still unknown factors and while the studies have identified trends in sedentary behavior, they have not proven anything yet. Everything is pointing to the dangers of sitting, but cause and effect have yet to be determined.

“There are many important factors we don’t understand about sedentary time yet. The types of studies available identify trends but don’t prove cause and effects.”

Sixty years ago, half of all jobs required some physical activity. Now less than 20 percent of all jobs require any sort of activity. This helped the group determine just how sedentary U.S. adults currently are.

“Based on existing evidence, we found that U.S. adults are sedentary for about six to eight hours a day. Adults 60 years and older spend between 8.5 — 9.6 hours a day in sedentary time.”

Already, there are standing desks available to consumers, with most that have an adjustable feature that allows user to change positions from sitting to standing and back. There are also desks attached to treadmills.

So, could this possibly mean that Netflix will need to have a warning to viewers to stand while binge watching? Is it possible that eventually our televisions will shut down after so many hours of viewing to ensure the viewers get up and go for a walk?

Are you making sure you get up and move around every hour?

[Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images]