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Why you need to get up and move more even if you hit the gym every day

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Sitting, even if you exercise daily, can lead to major health problems

More research shows sitting for too long can shorten lifespan, even for those who hit the gym every day. The finding means it's important to get up and move frequently to prevent chronic diseases including diabetes, cancer and more.


Results of the new study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that risk of death from cancer, diabetes and heart disease increases from being sedentary, regardless of our level of physical activity.

The good news is that even if you work at a computer, enjoy watching TV and don't want to give that up, or are forced to spend time commuting, you can take action to stay healthy.

Study author, David Alter, MD, PhD, Senior Scientist at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-University Health Network and Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, says that exercising for an hour a day won't do the trick.

What to do to remain active

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Alter suggests standing instead of sitting at work. Taking a one to three minute break from sitting every half hour doubles the amount of calories burned, compared to sitting. He says it's important to start slowly with the goal of reducing sedentary time by 2 to 3 hours during a twelve-hour day.

Past studies have suggested sitting for long periods can shorten lifespan. We have some of our own tips for reducing your sitting time that include:

  • Walk or stand during meetings.
  • Consider purchasing or making your own treadmill desk
  • Get up and walking around the house during TV commercials
  • Instead of taking a break and snacking, give yourself a "fitness" break at work. Go for a walk, climb stairs, or just march in place at your desk.
  • Consider a standing desk

The newest finding showing sitting is dangerous for health is the result of an analysis of past studies. Alter says the average person spends more than half of their day sitting. The negative health effects of sitting are even worse for people who don't exercise, also found in the analysis. The study authors don't say how much sedentary time is too much. The finding suggests it's important to stay active throughout the day regardless of whether you hit the gym daily.

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