The Mortality of Being Seated

03.10.22 |

Our understanding of what constitutes physical fitness has evolved radically over the last several decades. While our medical insights into Habits of Healthy Motion–and their importance–grew, modern society trended deeper and deeper into inactivity.

A recent survey in showed that 86% of all Americans sit all day. Daily sitting ranges from 9.3 hours on average to as high as 15 hours in some individuals. We are literally sitting down more than we sleep in a day.

Another large study including 125,000 participants showed excessive sitting increased mortality and decreased lifespan across the board. Yet another study evaluated the amount of activity of overweight versus lean people and discovered that obese individuals sat 2.5 hours more than lean people.

Evenings in the Gym are Not the Complete Answer

The old school thinking around fitness argued that we could maintain our health by getting on a treadmill for 30 minutes a day even if we were relatively motionless for the rest of the day. Those experts were wrong. Working out three days a week doesn’t keep you healthier either. Being active throughout the day is what keeps us healthy.

In fact, many studies are now showing that sitting for hours independent of our weekly exercise is lethal. Reducing chronic inactivity is even more essential than brief periods of intense exercise for this reason. Even seven hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity was not enough to curb the mortality rate.

A study of over 240,000 adults who were the most active with over seven hours a week of exercise but who also spent the most time sitting had a 50% greater risk of dying from any cause. That’s double the risk of dying from heart disease.

Be a Perpetual Motion Machine

In other words, we need more motion built into your daily routine. Activity and movement need to be woven into our lifestyle to get us out of our seats and using our bodies.The good news: You can expend 350 calories a day with simple Habits of Healthy Motion (turn to page 356 in Dr. A’s Habits of Health to learn about the NEAT System) that won’t even feel like a workout. We must become perpetual motion machines, making the time to move all day, everyday. Your life depends on it.