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Can too much sitting hasten death?

“Desk jockeys” and cubicle dwellers (such as myself) everywhere should be concerned.  Like the ancient sailor who, while journeying across the open seas was without access to Vitamin C, the sailors of the corporate world, manning and maintaining their respective corporate vessels and unable to venture outside to bask in sunlight, have had to endure the plight of Vitamin D deficiency.  Now, something else, something I love dearly, has been shown to contribute to early death: sitting too long.

Not only does the issue of sitting behind a desk all day raise serious questions about what constitutes the “good” life, but it has an actual, quantifiable, impact on your physical (not just mental) health.  Kristen Gerencher of Market Watch reports that, “a new study found that sitting six or more hours a day increased the risk of early death from all causes by an average of 35% for women and 18% for men—even if you exercise.”  How precisely does sitting achieve this?  Gerencher explains, “Researchers hypothesize that uninterrupted sitting can cause large muscle groups to shut down and lead to damaging metabolic changes.”  The study, performed by the American Cancer Society, contains a number of frightening statistics; the most frightening of which reports that a lack of exercise coupled with extended sitting drastically increased those two aforementioned statistics, from 35% to 94% for women, and from 18% to 48% for men.

Gerencher asks the important questions, “So what should you do with this information?” She answers that workers of the 21st century should make more of an effort to get up and move around: walk to someone’s desk instead of sending an e-mail; take the stairs.  Though, I would add that we should not only strive to get up and move around every day, but we should strive to get up and walk around outside every day.  Take a walk outside during your lunch, or add a stroll outside to your daily routine.  Kill two birds with one stone: get your blood flowing, and get some Vitamin D while you’re doing it.

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