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How sitting too much can damage your health
In a culture plagued with 9-10 hours of sitting each day, a group of experts are urging a shift to avoid serious health risks. - photo by Massarah Mikati
Most of you are probably sitting while reading this, and you have also probably been sitting at your desk all morning, during lunch, when you got back to work, when you drove home from work and when you finally made it to the couch planted in front of your TV after a long day of sitting at work.

According to a new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, our culture of sitting which has plagued around 60 percent of the UKs population is the root of myriad health problems.

The study found people who sit a lot have over twice the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease than those who sit the least. In addition, their risk of cancer and mortality increases by 13 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

Experts say sitting too much can cause organ damage, slower brain function, depression, muscle degeneration, back and neck pains, and leg disorders, The Washington Post reported.

According to the experts who conducted the British study, it is recommended for people to stand at least two hours a day to reduce health risks, although it is preferred that the number double to four hours a day.

And apparently, regular exercise doesnt count.

Even if youre meeting your physical activity guidelines, you cannot undo the risks of prolonged sitting, Gavin Bradley, director of the campaign group Get Britain Standing, told The Associated Press.

Its all about mixing it up, Bradley said to The Washington Post. Metabolism slows down 90 percent after 30 minutes of sitting. The enzymes that move the bad fat from your arteries to your muscles, where it can get burned off, slow down. The muscles in your lower body are turned off. And after two hours, good cholesterol drops 20 percent. Just getting up for five minutes is going to get things going again.

Spending more time active and standing is not only good for health, though. Studies have found an increase in work productivity upon office-wide implementation of healthier lifestyles.

Key studies from Australia have demonstrated a potential ameliorating influence of workplace interventions, the BJSM article said. These studies revealed that healthy workers rate their work performance greater than less healthy workers.

Some office environment changes include standing desks, treadmill desks and surfing desks.

While Bradley and others are pushing for change to begin in the work office with more standing desks and physical activities, an even bigger issue to challenge is the culture.

Strategies and programs for implementing change will need careful organizational and behavioral support and public education to prevent current interests in active office environments from simply being a passing fad, the group wrote.

Our whole culture invites you to take a seat, Bradley said. We say, Are you comfortable? Please take a seat. So we know we have a huge job in front of us.
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