Summary: Numerous studies have cast light on the health hazards of prolonged sitting but new research shows the damage starts much sooner than expected. Think twice before you take a seat!




Prolonged sitting has now been firmly linked as a major contributor to the top disease categories that plague the nation: heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and obesity. While there is no disputing the health hazards of sitting too much – just how much is too much? A new study out of Indiana University found that the negative impact on health starts within the first hour of sitting down. There is a silver lining to this cloud of bad news however.




While the study established sitting’s negative effect established sitting’s negative effect on the endothelial function of arteries (the ability of arteries to expand to allow optimal blood flow) it also discovered that short walking breaks of just five minutes out of every hour could reverse the effect and prevent this negative effect on arterial flow.


Circulatory System




That’s great news for those who are not yet allowed a treadmill desk in their office. Endothelial impairment is an early harbinger of cardiovascular disease so it is important to prevent the damage caused daily in office cubicles across the country by encouraging more movement at frequent intervals.




This was one of the first studies to actually to measure the “dosage” of activity and frequency necessary to counteract one of the components complicit in the deterioration of sedentary employee’s health. Previous studies out of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center found significant deterioration in muscle function with just 15 minutes of sitting. Bottom line – sitting is bad on a variety of levels and movement is critical to good health.




Just how much of an impact sitting have on an artery’s normal capacity? The study revealed that sitting for just ONE hour led to a 50% reduction in femoral (leg) artery capacity as measured by ultrasound and blood pressure cuffs.




It is confusing for many to understand that the body needs to be in motion throughout much of the day. While a five minute walking break can undo the endothelial impact of sitting for the previous 55 minutes this cannot not be extrapolated to mean that during an eight hour day an employee needs only to get up and move for 40 minutes total at specified intervals, nor did this study imply that. However, some studies have shown that a mere 15 minutes of daily walking can comparatively extend life expectancy by as much as 3 years! 






It should alarm employees and employers alike that the negative health consequences of sitting begin rapidly and that movement should be encouraged at every opportunity within the confines of their respective work environments.




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