Why sitting is bad for you

If you find yourself sitting for many hours a day — whether in front of a computer or television — you’re setting yourself up for a wide range of health problems. Here’s why experts are calling sitting “the new smoking.”

Why are we so sedentary?

Canadian adults are sitting on the job more than they used to. Even in our leisure time, almost half of us remain inactive. There are many reasons why we’re sitting much more than we did 50 years ago:

  • As our jobs go more high tech, less physical activity is required.
  • More household tasks that used to require movement — like buying groceries — can now be done while sitting.
  • We’re spending an increasing number of hours in front of TVs and computers in our leisure time.
  • Modern transportation is sedentary, and we’re relying on it more these days.

Top 10 ways sitting hurts you

A wide range of health problems are now linked to too much sitting. Some are straightforward — no one would be surprised to learn that using a computer for hours can strain your back and neck, for example.

Other risks, however, are less direct. For instance, the Canadian Community Health Survey found that people who spend more leisure time in front of TVs and computers are more likely to have an unhealthy diet.

Sitting increases your risk of the following:

  • weight gain and obesity
  • heart disease
  • various cancers
  • high blood pressure
  • unhealthy cholesterol levels
  • high blood sugar and diabetes
  • osteoporosis
  • neck and back problems
  • varicose veins and deep vein thrombosis
  • eye strain

Even if you’re physically active at other times of the day, it doesn’t undo the damage of sitting for prolonged periods of time.

A menace to your mental function

The risks of sitting aren’t all physical. Several studies show that inactivity affects brain function. So, if you’re feeling groggy at your desk, maybe the answer isn’t another cup of coffee but a couple of jumping jacks.

6 ways to be more active while working from home

  • Start or finish your day with some exercise
  • Meditate in the morning
  • Take scheduled breaks throughout your workday
  • Stretch your body
  • Use your lunch break to go for a walk outside
  • Stand up while talking on the phone

6 ways to be more active in your everyday life

  • Use a step counter to track your steps in a day, and then challenge yourself to increase the number
  • The next time you get a call, put your headphones in and go for a walk while you chat
  • Pick up your walking pace wherever you go
  • Get up and move your body every time a commercial comes on TV
  • Replace sedentary family time with physical activity: walk the dog together instead of watching movies, for instance
  • When you’re a spectator at an outdoor sports game, try walking or standing instead of sitting to watch

How Engineers Canada-sponsored Critical Illness Insurance can help

It’s also a good idea not to sit on getting coverage. With Critical Illness Insurance, you’ll have financial protection (with a lump-sum benefit) if you become unwell. Discover the affordable rates available to both you and your spouse.