The Silent Threat: Prolonged Sitting and Its Lethal Consequences


In a shocking revelation, new research highlights the potential lethality associated with prolonged sitting, particularly in the context of office jobs. The study, led by Dr. Chi-Pang Wen of the National Health Research Institute in Zhunan, Taiwan, found a significant link between extended periods of occupational sitting and an increased risk of early death. This revelation raises concerns about the pervasive nature of sedentary work and its impact on overall health.

The Taiwanese study, published in the journal JAMA Network Open on Jan. 19, discovered that individuals who spent most of their workday sitting faced a staggering 16% higher likelihood of an early death compared to those in non-sitting jobs. The risks were not uniform across age and gender, with the threat escalating with age and being more pronounced in women (21%) than men (13%).

Breaking the Norm: Denormalizing Prolonged Sitting

The researchers expressed concern about the normalization of prolonged occupational sitting, emphasizing the need to view it as an undesirable and unhealthy habit. Drawing a parallel to the denormalization of smoking, the study aims to shed light on the potential fatality of a life spent predominantly sitting.

While the adverse health effects of prolonged sitting are well-documented, the study suggests that there might be specific mechanisms of harm associated with the posture of sitting. This includes potential weakening of the legs and trunk, increased blood flow to lower extremities, and low-grade inflammation. Over time, these factors could contribute to a cascade of health issues, including reduced insulin action, diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and decreased kidney function.

Mitigating the Risks: Movement as a Solution

The study provides a glimmer of hope by indicating that incorporating movement during the workday or engaging in leisure-time exercise significantly reduces the risk associated with prolonged sitting. Individuals whose workdays involved a combination of sitting and movement did not experience an increased risk of all-cause mortality.

The researchers propose systemic changes in the workplace to counter the dangers of prolonged sitting. Suggestions include more frequent breaks, the implementation of standing desks, designated areas for physical activity within workplaces, and gym membership benefits. These interventions, aimed at disrupting prolonged sitting, could potentially contribute to maintaining the health of individuals with sedentary jobs.

In conclusion, the study underscores the urgent need to address the health risks associated with prolonged sitting, particularly in the context of office environments. The findings advocate for a shift in workplace norms and the adoption of interventions to promote movement, ultimately safeguarding the well-being of individuals who spend a significant portion of their day sitting.

What do you do to get off your butt and onto your feet during the work week? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

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