At the Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Institute we’re in the movement business. We want to get you moving and keep you moving. Of course, there is a lot of research that supports the importance of exercise and movement. But did you know there is also research that indicates that sitting may be harmful?
Indeed, studies have consistently shown that prolonged sitting is bad for your health. Researchers have studied sitting extensively because we are a society of sitters. We sit at desks, we sit in cars, and we sit on the couch to watch television. But here’s the thing—the human body was not designed to sit and certainly not for prolonged periods of time.
The data is consistent. Prolonged sitting can take years off of your life. What’s more, it appears to be a dose-response relationship. In fact, a large Australian study has shown that more sitting is associated with higher mortality. People who sit for 11 or more hours per day are 40 percent more likely to die from any cause than those who sit for less than four hours per day. People who sit for prolonged periods of time are also more likely to die from cancer.
This may be unwelcome news if you’ve been benched by an injury—but should also serve as a reminder that an injury isn’t an excuse to become a professional couch potato. This doesn’t mean you have to launch yourself into an exhausting exercise program. Exercise and movement are not always the same thing. Plus, the data shows that a day full of sitting cancels the effects of a one-hour workout anyway.
Instead, it’s time for a paradigm shift—from exercise to movement—and movement can happen in many different ways all day long. Even if you’re recovering from an injury—in fact, especially if you’re recovering from an injury—can you incorporate more movement into your day?
Think outside the box. Park farther away than you normally would and seize the opportunity for a walk. Choose the stairs over the elevator. Trade email for face-to-face conversation so that you’re forced to get up and walk down the hall to your coworker’s office. Set a timer to go off every hour to remind you to get up and move for a few minutes. You don’t have to spend all day at the gym—just trade more movement for less sitting for better health.
 van der Ploeg HP, Chey T, Korda RJ, et al. Sitting time and all-cause mortality risk in 222 497 Australian adults. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2012; 172(6): 494-500.
 Katzmarzyk PT, Lee IM. Sedentary behaviour and life expectancy in the USA: a cause-deleted life table analysis. BMJ Open. 2012; 2:e000828 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-000828
 PatelAV, Bernstein L, Deka A, et al. Leisure time spent sitting in relation to total mortality in a prospective cohort of US adults. American Journal of Epidemiology [early online publication]. July 22, 2010.