Death by sitting
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The Silent Killer

For many Northern Virginians, the workday consists idling through stop-and-go traffic into work, spending eight-plus hours staring at a computer screen and then returning to the monotonous gas-break dance during the evening commute. The common denominator being that all of these activities are completed while staying seated—a habitual activity that might be slowly killing you.

By Angela Bobo


Five Reasons to Get Up and Get Out

1 The most visible effect of a sedentary lifestyle is a change in the average weight of Americans. A 2011 study by PLoS ONE found that over the last 50 years, the physical demands of daily occupations have decreased, which subsequently led to a decrease in the amount of calories burned per day. With 100 fewer calories burned per day, the average body weight of American men and women has increased, which the study notes as a contributing factor to the country’s obesity crisis.


2 Working out before or after work will increase your calorie burn, but it might not decrease your chances of developing certain types of cancer. The Journal of the National Cancer Institute found in a 2014 study that men and women who spent more time total sitting throughout the day than they were active were 24 percent more likely to develop colon cancer, 32 percent more likely to develop endometrial cancer and 21 percent more likely to develop lung cancer. The key to decreasing these risks is to take walking breaks every couple of hours.


3 It is especially important for those 60 and over to get moving. The government’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that for every hour that a person over 60 is sedentary, he or she is 50 percent more likely to develop a disability in everyday life. For older people, a sedentary lifestyle has a greater impact on everyday activities and the study’s researchers suggest taking a 10-minute walking break every hour to counteract the effects of sitting.


4 The Well@Work Project in the UK conducted a survey in 2011 that found that women who participated in sedentary computer use were adversely connected with a decreased mental well-being. While the survey states that the findings may differ by gender, it is important to note that there might be another reason for that 3 p.m. mental block.


5 A harrowing statistic found in a survey published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine states that every hour spent sitting in front of a TV will result in 22 minutes off of a person’s life expectancy. This finding likens the sedentary effects of TV viewing to that of cigarette smoking, which shaves 11 minutes off of life expectancy for every cigarette smoked.


Upgrade Your Workday

(January 2015)