The Effects of Prolonged Sitting and a Sedentary Lifestyle on Your Health

The Effects of Prolonged Sitting and a Sedentary Lifestyle on Your Health

There is strong evidence to suggest that excessive sitting and a sedentary lifestyle can have negative health effects and potentially contribute to a shortened lifespan.

Prolonged periods of sitting, especially when combined with a sedentary lifestyle, have been linked to various health risks like Type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, and heart disease.  In fact, a recent study even links it to an increased risk of dementia.1  Additionally, sitting for extended periods can lead to musculoskeletal problems, including back pain, neck pain, and poor posture.

Importance of Regular Physical Activity

Regular physical activity is important for maintaining good health and reducing the risks associated with excessive sitting.  Engaging in moderate to vigorous exercise, such as walking, jogging, or strength training, can help counteract the negative effects of prolonged sitting and promote assist with attaining or maintaining a healthy weight.

Exercise promotes heart health by enhancing blood circulation, improving cholesterol levels, and regulating blood pressure.  It is also essential for maintaining musculoskeletal health, promoting flexibility, and preventing conditions such as osteoporosis and arthritis.

Added benefits include improved mental well-being by reducing stress, anxiety, and depression while enhancing brain function and your overall mood.

Ways to Interrupt Sitting Patterns

If you need to be sitting for a prolonged period of time for work or some other reason, below are some steps you can take to interrupt your sitting pattern:

  • Take Regular Breaks.  Try to take a break every hour and incorporate simple actions like standing up, stretching, or taking 250 steps. 
  • Incorporate Desk Exercises:  Simple activities like seated leg lifts, desk push-ups, or seated marching can help increase blood flow and reduce stiffness and stress.
  • Use a Standing Desk: If possible, invest in a standing desk or a desk converter that allows you to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day.
  • Use Phone Calls as Opportunities: If you have phone calls that don’t require you to stay at your desk, consider taking them while standing or walking around. This allows you to stay productive while getting additional steps or a change in position.
  • Incorporate Movement into Work Tasks: When possible, find ways to incorporate movement into your work tasks such as standing while reading emails or having walking meetings.

Overall, while sitting itself may not directly “shave years off your life,” excessive and prolonged sitting, combined with a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to various health issues and potentially impact the longevity of your life.  It is essential to maintain a balance between sitting and physical activity to support your overall health and well-being.

If you are looking for additional tips for healthy living and weight loss, please give us a call at (571) 561-3400


1 Raichlen DA, et al. Sedentary behavior and incident dementia among older adultsJAMA. 2023;330(10):934–940. doi:10.1001/jama.2023.15231