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  • Writer's pictureChin Ling

Too Much Sitting is Bad for You

Updated: Dec 8, 2022


I’ve been flung into an arduous school run which takes me back to my days of M25 commuting. Except the school run happens twice a day and there are penalties for being late! Just to add to the stress, there’s very little gratitude from the school children!

This sitting in one position has affected my lower back, my posture and my energy levels. You wouldn’t think that staying in one position for prolonged periods would make you more tired, but conversely, it does! I then come home, sit in the office and sit at my salon couch, so the hours of sitting all add up. My legs are stiff too, not surprisingly.

When I used to work in offices, I got into the habit of forcing myself to walk around the building. For example, going up a few floors to go to the bathroom, the same for getting a drink and using the photocopier. I used to make new friends in other areas of the building in departments I didn’t know existed! Working from home, it’s actually harder to take such breaks even though, in theory, it shouldn’t be because you have more freedom in your own home. Somehow, it doesn’t work like that in practice. The best way to force yourself to take a break is by using a kitchen timer and not ignoring it. You can set yourself little tasks throughout the day that only take 2-10 minutes to do, such as starting the dishwasher, emptying the dishwasher, taking the bins out, making a tea.

Studies have shown that too much time spent sitting leads to larger waistlines, inflammation due to blood and oxygen not being pumped around sufficiently, and in more serious circumstances, lower levels of good cholesterol. Just taking short breaks of even 1 minute but at frequent intervals during the day can help improve your health, with the most significant marker being a smaller waistline.

A study published in January 2011 in the European Heart Journal looked at a large multi-ethnic population and found links between the total amount of time spent sitting, the number of breaks that were taken and the associations with risks to heart disease and inflammatory disorders. The people who took the most breaks tended to have the smaller waists and a lower level of C-reactive protein which is a marker for inflammation.

Out of 4757 people who took part in the study, they found that:

“the top 25% of people who took the most breaks had, on average, a 4.1cm smaller waist circumference than those in the lowest 25%.”

So, even if you have your gym workout scheduled at the end of the day, it’s taking a break that will make a difference to your health. It’s not just the overall time you spend sitting in one day, it’s also how long you spend in any one period. If the only thing you notice is the first half cm off your waistline, that’s a pretty good result and an encouraging incentive to continue.

Information taken from


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