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Is my chair killing me? © Getty Images

Is my chair killing me?

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Sitting all day at work, sitting to watch TV in the evenings, sitting in the car (we’d like to see you try to stand!!); it all increases the risk for developing disease.

Sixty years ago, researchers found that bus drivers had twice as many heart attacks as bus conductors. The difference was that the conductor was on his feet all day, whereas the driver was sitting down.


Nowadays, adults in the UK commonly spend seven or more hours a day sitting down, and this tends to increase as people get older. Long periods of sitting are typically associated with an inactive lifestyle, which is a risk factor for heart disease, dementia and diabetes.

It’s a vicious cycle because the collagen around your tendons and ligaments tends to harden when the joints aren’t moving, and the postural muscles around your trunk gradually get weaker. This reduces your flexibility and makes you more likely to strain your back or shoulders when you bend or lift. Without the need to support your weight, your leg bones become more porous and blood tends to pool in your ankles, which can lead to varicose veins and even deep vein thrombosis (dangerous blood clots in your veins).

The good news is that a 2016 analysis of studies of over a million people found that you can completely counter the negative effects of a desk job by doing 60 to 75 minutes of moderate physical exercise every day. Standing or walking during meetings and standing while talking on the phone are both good ways to start reducing your daily sitting time.

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luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.


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