“Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.”

You may think that’s a little dramatic, but Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative has been studying the adverse effects of our increasingly sedentary lifestyles for years. And he has summed up his findings in the two sentences we quote above.



A recent article on his work in The Active Times continues: ‘Levine is credited with coining the mantra “Sitting is the new smoking”—but he’s not the only one who believes it. Researchers have found and continue to find evidence that prolonged sitting increases the risk of developing several serious illnesses like various types of cancer, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.’*

The truth behind Dr Levine’s concept has definitely caught on – Google ‘sitting disease’ and you’ll find dozens of experts agreeing with his diagnosis.

According to the most recent information from The Office For National Statistics, almost 31 million days of work were lost in the UK in 2013 due to bad necks, backs and muscle problems, costing the UK economy £15.1 billion.


In our increasingly office-bound economy (sedentary jobs in the UK have increased by a staggering 83% since 1950), most of those problems are being caused or exacerbated by poor posture during long periods of sitting at a desk.

A 2017 study published in The Annals of Internal Medicine states that ‘sitting for excessively long periods of time is a risk factor for early death.’

And here’s what influential Small Business portal has to say, in an article aimed at helping employers to do the best for their staff:




‘Poor posture at work can lead to serious long-term health problems for many individuals, often triggering severe stress and anxiety in sufferers.

‘There is compelling evidence to indicate people who sit for more than four hours at a time are at greater risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes – a condition that has risen by almost 60% in the past 10 years.

‘Back pain caused by bad posture is an issue affecting around 70 per cent of the nation’s workforce and is now the second most common complaint among employees. Few will be aware that poor posture can also contribute to knee pain, fallen arches and even cause poor bladder control.

‘With back pain damaging the health of employees and costing businesses in sick days, it’s clear that employers should do everything they can to eliminate poor posture in their workplace.



‘Sitting down for more than 4 hours a day can be harmful to health

‘In recent years a variety of major international research has produced startling evidence that sitting more than four consecutive hours each day can lead to a reduced metabolic rate and causes the enzymes responsible for burning fat to shut down. This can lead to other more significant concerns.


‘The top 9 health risks associated with prolonged sitting are:

1.     Obesity
The evidence linking physical activity patterns with obesity is increasing rapidly.

2.     High blood pressure
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage the body in many ways.

3.     Muscle degeneration
Prolonged sitting leads to tight back muscles and soft abdominals which lead to bad posture which can exaggerate the spine’s natural arch.

4.     Back and neck pain and inflexible spines
Spines which don’t move become inflexible and susceptible to damage in mundane activities. If most of your sitting occurs at a desk at work, craning your neck toward a keyboard or tilting your head to cradle a phone while typing can strain the cervical vertebrae and lead to permanent imbalances.

5.      Osteoporosis
Weight bearing activities such as standing, walking and running stimulate hip and lower body bones to grow thicker, denser and stronger. Remaining still has the opposite effect.

6.     Depression
Moving muscles pumps fresh blood and oxygen through the brain and triggers the release of all sorts of brain enhancing chemicals. When we are sedentary for long periods everything slows, including brain function.

7.     Dementia
Many of the risk factors linked to dementia, including diabetes, depression and blood pressure can be affected by a sedentary lifestyle.

8.     Heart Disease
Muscles burn less fat and blood flows more sluggishly during a long sit, allowing fatty deposits to more easily clog the heart.

9.      Diabetes
Our pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that carries glucose to cells for energy. Cells in idle muscles don’t respond as readily to insulin so the pancreas produces excessive amounts, increasing the risk of diabetes.**






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