Prolonged sitting can kill faster than imagined

Prolong sitting is one habit that receives less attention from most of us. While many jog or do one form of physical exercise or the other, the cardiovascular death though declining has not reached the target. Our entire modern world is constructed to keep you sitting down. When we drive, we sit. When we work at an office, we sit. When we watch TV, well, you get seated. Health-enhancing benefits of physical activity, this alone may not be enough to reduce the risk for disease.

Prolonged sitting, meaning sitting for eight to 12 hours or more a day, increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 90% as shown in a study.  Those with prolonged sitting hours have a 15 to 20 per cent higher risk of heart disease, death from heart disease, cancer, death from cancer. It then means that avoiding sedentary time and getting regular exercise are both important for improving your health and survival. Engaging in 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous daily exercise does not mean it’s proper for you to “sit on your rear” for the rest of the day.

Many of the currently available jobs are sedentary in nature; thanks to advent of computers and information technology (IT). While IT is useful we need to apply ourselves and prevent prolonged sitting by the computers. Prolonged sitting is not good for our health. Legs have the largest bulk of muscle in the body and when at rest, calories are not burnt and blood flow rate is reduced enhancing the ability for the blood to come together and form clot in those that are predisposed to it. Apart from this, when you sit for too long, the body weight increases leading to obesity.

Obesity is associated with hypertension, diabetes mellitus, heart attack, stroke, and cancers.  My concern is that these diseases are increasing in our communities traversing through the old and young, high and low social class, literate and those educationally underprivileged group. If you find yourselves obese or overweight, kindly reduce your weight by at least by 10%. People are dying at the prime of their ages; we shall all eat the fruits of our labour. Watch your weight, keep moving your legs and avoid sedentary lifestyles.

Start by examining the time you spent on computer, watching television, treating files in your offices, when in excess it leads to cardiac problem. We must all be active irrespective of our age. Physical activities have been shown to be of tremendous help in maintaining a healthy cardiovascular state. There is no age limit when it comes to physical activity. Just because a person ages does not mean he or she must become inactive. The older a person gets, the more important it is to remain as physically active as possible.

Studies have shown that “It is not good enough to exercise for 30 minutes a day and be sedentary for 23 and a half hours. Also, “Decreasing sitting hours is not a replacement for exercise, and exercise is not a replacement for sitting more. They are both important to do, and do more of.”   This is the key for prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

For all of us, especially our busy executives, I have the following measures of physical activities that will not affect you work.


At home

  • Go out for a short walk before breakfast, after dinner or both. Start from five minutes and gradually step it up to 30 minutes.
  • Engage yourself in certain home works thereby giving helping hand to the ‘officers’ in the kitchen. House help may not have to do everything for us. Get water and drinks from the fridge. Clear tables where applicable and move around in the house.
  • Rather than driving or sending somebody to get things for you in a nearby shop, walk there yourself. Use car or bike only for long distances. When walking, pick up the pace from leisurely to brisk. Choose a raised or uphill route wherever possible.
  • Stand up while talking over the phone and pace up and down while the conversation lasts. It helps.
  • While watching TV, get up often, especially during the commercial breaks.
  • You can walk with your dog if you have one. This may look strange depending on the area of your settlement, don’t bother; keep it up.
  • Park further away at shopping mall and walk the extra distance subject to safety of your car in that vicinity.


At the office

Employers need to recognise the impact of prolonged sitting on their employees, and encourage workers to get up and move throughout the day.

  • Brainstorm project ideas with a co-worker while taking a walk. It is not all projects or business discussion that requires prolong sitting. The common saying is “let’s sit and discuss it over” but this oftentimes delay the outcome and possibly affects our cardiovascular state.
  • Again, in the office where possible, stand while talking over the phone. Get a specially made table that can allow you stand and still work on your computer.
  • Walking down the hall to speak with someone rather than using telephone.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator/lift.
  • Get involved in organising charity walk and raise money for the underprivileged. Your heart benefit in both ways, being happy for helping others and the effect of the exercise on the heart.
  • Get off bus/car/bike a few stops early and walk the rest of the way home or work.