Too Much Sitting Linked to Obesity and Other Health Issues

In the past five years alone there have been numerous studies done to illustrate the correlation between a sedentary lifestyle and obesity. Along with weight gain, there are also related health issues like heart disease.


Sedentary lifestyle or sitting for long periods of time is connected to health issues like obesity altered metabolism and type 2 diabetes. Recent studies focusing on this sedentary lifestyle has found that even with episodes of vigorous exercise, if the remaining time of the workday is mainly sedentary the health condition is not likely to change and mortality is increased in adults. This article included some ways to reduce the sedentary lifestyle. They include taking frequent standing or walking breaks, stand when talking on the phone, or reduce television time by moving around during the commercials.

Even with all the focus on this kind of lifestyle, obesity continues to be an issue in the US. The article also states that further research is needed. In many studies that the author looked at, they don’t consider things like age, sex, general mobility-issues or other health conditions that can influence a person’s activity levels. As the amount of time people are sitting worldwide increases, sedentary lifestyle has become a focus for health promotion and disease prevention efforts. The author concludes that there is insufficient evidence to base recommendations on a long time sitting. Obviously, further research is needed to address this ever growing problem (Eanes, 2018).

A sedentary lifestyle is pervasive in the Westernized societies. Adults spend an alarming nine to ten hours a day inactive. It has been labeled as the new smoking because of its prevalence worldwide. In this study, both the total time of inactivity and prolonged bouts of inactivity were associated with an increased risk of mortality. The findings of the study showed the importance of total volume of inactivity and its build-up as important health risks.

A key finding of this study was that patterns of sedentary time accumulation correlate with mortality. It is not only the amount of time one is inactive but also the manner in which it is built-up. Currently, all activity guidelines recommend a minimization of all inactivity time. These guidelines are generalized and stop short of specifics about how someone should approach an effort to get this accomplished. It is not clear how often inactivity should be broken up. This study put forth guidelines of standing up at least every 30 minutes. Middle to older age adults only accumulates two bouts of inactivity.

Several limitations should be noted. The device they utilized to gather information about activity may have underreported actual change in position. Thus their results cannot be generalized but it does point out very important points. It suggests that total sedentary time and prolonged uninterrupted inactive bouts are related to an increase in mortality risk (Diaz et al, 2017).

Height adjustable desks (HAD) may promote workplace standing. This study followed a company with desk-based workers that some were equipped with HADs. They also were checking out how often the workers with the desks were actually using them on a regular basis. The evidence is being stockpiled showing the various health issues related to prolonged periods of sitting. Occupational sitting has been noted as one of the largest contributors of the daily sitting of workers. The use of HAD has sparked an interest in research of their benefits.

It has also prompted more employers to make use of these desks. Univariate analysis showed a health knowledge about sitting was significantly associated with regular use of the HAD. This study showed that employees with muscular-skeletal or back pain were helped by the use of the HAD as well. Unfortunately, the study did say that there were some limitations in their study. They said because of their small sample size, they could not come to any generalizations with the information that had been collected. This study did provide insight into availability and use of these desks. In addition, only half of the workers who had access to them actually made use of them. It is hoped that this article will illuminate the advantages of having the ability to stand for part of their workday without losing productivity (Sperlich et al, 2017).

New evidence suggests a reduction of inactive lifestyle may help to improve health. Recent studies suggest the relationship between inactivity and activity; replacing sitting with standing can have important health benefits. Novel intervention strategies that focus on sitting and lower intensity activities by changing the environment they are working in. compelling evidence links inactivity to poor health. This has prompted intensive research across the spectrum of public health. It is important that some focus must be placed on the environment as it can negatively or positively influence the time spent inactive.
Some studies done in the past five years have shown simply replacing one hour a day with activity was associated with 18% to 42% less mortality. In an effort to help with BMI and waist circumference the study found replacing sitting with stepping was beneficial when standing was not. Although the evidence from human experimental studies focus on reducing or breaking up sitting time, the major challenge targeting overall increase in activity is educating the population about the need for an increased activity in order to have the health benefits.


This focus needs to be individualized as well. Each person needs to be looked at for not only their underlying health issues but their individual working environment as well. The study has found that there is a need to focus on the motivation of the worker. Most studies about improving health assume that people will make rational choices. A notable feature of this body of evidence is that it is solution-oriented research. Now is the time to translate the findings to date into interventions that are most apt to be implemented and followed (Keadle et al, 2017).

Relationships between sedentary behavior and obesity are unclear. Many studies have concluded inconsistencies and limitations. Part of this is thought to be due to the use of self-reporting documentation. Advances in technology and objective measurement devices are increasingly being used and tested. With the objective devices being utilized the results are better but some devices are not without their own limitations. Some don’t differentiate between sitting and lying or sitting and standing reliably.

A standardized definition of inactivity will have obvious benefits for clarifying its impact on health. Unfortunately, some health issues may be directly connected to inactivity while others do not. Another aspect of these studies that are not properly identified is those individuals who have health conditions that impair their general activity level. The aim of this study was to examine if the way sedentary behavior is defined and objectively measured impacts the estimated sedentary time and its associated health outcomes.

In addition, was posture and low-intensity behavior a strong predictor of indices of adiposity than measures of low intensity and posture alone? The absence of an association between measures of sitting/lying and sitting/lying plus low-intensity behavior and adiposity in the data suggests that the postural element is not sufficient for fat mass accumulation. In this study, they also concluded that further exploration needs to be done on the relationship between low energy activities of low energy expenditure (Myers et al, 2018).

Work Cited
Diaz, K.M. et al. (2017). Patterns of sedentary behavior and mortality in US middle-aged and older adults: A national cohort study. Annals of Internal Medicine,167(7). Doi:10.7326/M17-0212

Eanes, L. (2018). Too much sitting a newly recognized health risk. American Journal of Nursing, 118(9).doi:10.1097/01.NAJ.0000544948.27593.9b

Keadle, S.K. et al. (2017). Targeting reductions in sitting time to increase physical activity and improve health. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise,49(8).doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000001257

Myers, A. et al. (2018). Disentangling the relationship between sedentariness and obesity: Activity intensity, but not sitting posture is associated with adiposity in women. Journal of Physiology & Behavior. Doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2018.05.007

Sperlich, B.W.; Bipp, T.; Buckson, J.; Froboese, I. (2017). Who uses height-adjustable desks? Sociodemographic health-related and psycho-social variables of regular use. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity,14(26).doi:10.1186/s12966-017-0480-4