Are You a Sitting Duck?

Being sedentary is associated with obesity, heart disease, cancer and more.

Are You a Sitting Duck?

Movie mavens brag about watching Fanny and Alexander—over five hours long—and West of the Tracks for nine plus. But they’re bested by intrepid fans who go to see La Flor, an 807-minute film with 40 minutes of credits.

But those glued-to-your-seat sessions pale in comparison to the sit-downs that US adolescents and adults log in day-after-day. According to a study published in JAMA, researchers found that daily sitting time has increased among kids 12-19 and adults 20- 64 from seven hours a day to just over eight for adolescents, and from 5.5 hours daily to almost 6.5 for adults.

The risks are well-documented: Being sedentary is associated with thinning of the medial temporal lobe, a part of the brain important for the formation of new memories—and even a lot of physical activity doesn’t reduce such a harmful effect. In addition, prolonged sitting puts you in the hot seat for obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, breast and colon cancer, osteoporosis and depression.

Your solution: Moving more takes a commitment—and an exercise partner. At work, set a stand-up reminder for every 30-60 minutes and enlist officemates to join in. Walk around the floor, have walking meetings, do 30 jumps, take a couple of flights of stairs. Add after dinner walks (at the mall or outdoors) to your family routine; sign kids up for sports activities—practice with them. Look for hidden opportunities to move such as parking away from your destination or saying no to elevators. Become a “Moving More” movement.

Medically reviewed in December 2019.

More On

3 Ways Exercise Helps You Stay Young

article

3 Ways Exercise Helps You Stay Young
Feeling less than inspired when it's time to hustle over to the gym? We're betting these three workout benefits will fire up your motivation. (Try the...
2 Ways to Boost Your Energy in Winter

video

2 Ways to Boost Your Energy in Winter
Does winter have you feeling blah? The right foods and fitness changes can perk you up. In this video, Michael Roizen, MD, offers two tips to boost yo...
Why You Should Exercise With a Buddy

video

Why You Should Exercise With a Buddy
When it comes to making your exercise more effective, nothing beats a workout partner. In this Health Smarts video, Mike Clark, DPT, reveals how exerc...
What Is the Biggest Mistake People Make Who Are Trying to Lose Weight?

video

What Is the Biggest Mistake People Make Who Are Trying to Lose Weight?
Motivation is key to weight loss, but many dieters don't think about that before they start a diet. In this video, registered dietitian Samantha Helle...