The hours you spend sitting are not harmless; in fact, some experts say it’s a habit that’s almost as bad as smoking.

We sit everywhere – in our cars, at our desks, in the bank while we wait to be served, and, if our couches could talk, we’d be embarrassed by what they reveal on the number of hours we spend sitting. As humans, we are built to sit upright. Our entire body works best when we do so, including our heart and cardiovascular system, even our bowel movements benefit.

However, modern life has become increasingly physically inactive, and so we spend far too much time lying down and sitting. According to the Department of Health, State Government of Victoria, Australia, physical inactivity contributes to over three million preventable deaths worldwide each year. It’s also the fourth leading cause of death due to non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

Movement is the answer

According to, some of the conditions linked to sitting too much include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and unhealthy cholesterol levels. This cluster makes up the metabolic syndrome. 

The site also states that various studies point to movement being the best antidote to sitting. They say: “Overall, research seems to point to the fact that less sitting and more moving contribute to better health. You might start by simply standing rather than sitting when you have the chance. Or find ways to walk while you work.

Find ways to walk while you work

  • Take a break from sitting every 30 minutes.
  • Stand while talking on the phone or watching TV.
  • If you work at a desk, try a standing desk — or improvise with a high table or counter.
  • Walk with your colleagues for meetings rather than sitting in a conference room.
  • Position your work surface above a treadmill — with a computer screen and keyboard on a stand or a specialised treadmill-ready vertical desk — so that you can be in motion throughout the day.”

Click here to read a previous InHealth article about walking and how you can incorporate more of it into your life.