The Dangers of Sitting

I saw this chart last spring and it spooked me, and it has lingered in my mind ever since:

A disturbing new Australian study backs up the chart:

Prolonged sitting is considered detrimental to health, but evidence regarding the independent relationship of total sitting time with all-cause mortality is limited. This study aimed to determine the independent relationship of sitting time with all-cause mortality.

… We linked prospective questionnaire data from 222 497 individuals 45 years or older … to mortality data …

During 621 695 person-years of follow-up …, 5405 deaths were registered…. The association between sitting and all-cause mortality appeared consistent across the sexes, age groups, body mass index categories, and physical activity levels and across healthy participants compared with participants with preexisting cardiovascular disease or diabetes mellitus.

Conclusions Prolonged sitting is a risk factor for all-cause mortality, independent of physical activity. Public health programs should focus on reducing sitting time in addition to increasing physical activity levels.

Greg Laden drives home the most challenging implication of the data:

I know what you are thinking: “I go to the gym for five hours a day so that fixes that problem.” Sorry, but no. Apparently (and this is not fully demonstrated, so this is something of a guess) it’s the sitting that hurts you, independently of the lack of exercise. Yes, those several hours a week of exercise helps you and makes you healthier, but the sitting itself, if we’ve got this right, is a bad thing, with negative effects, and if you do too much off that every day you’ll die sooner than otherwise.


Yeah, I’m going to die of sitting.


Your Thoughts?

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.