Please stand up when you read this article. Seriously. Because apparently, I am putting my life in jeopardy by just sitting and writing it.

New research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine examining the findings of 47 studies concludes that those of who sit for long periods of time raise our average risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and early death.

The research concluded that those who spend long hours in sedentary activity are 90% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. And, the risk of cardiovascular disease was about 18% higher and 13-16% higher for developing cancers.

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Not even all the exercise I do can save me. Even for those who meet recommended daily levels of exercise, sitting for long periods of time increases the probability of declining health. To be sure, I am better off than those who achieve little exercise. Those who engage in regular physical activity but still spend a large proportion of their day in sedentary activity were found, on average, to be 30% less likely to die of any cause in a given period than were those who get little to no exercise. The risk of poor health “is more pronounced at lower levels of physical activity than at higher levels.” Still, the fact that I am 16% more likely to die than someone who sits less is unsettling.

And, I’m not the only one…More than half of the average American’s waking life is spent sitting.

Unfortunately, the study was not able to tell us exactly how much time of sitting is detrimental to our health. Nor, was it able to accurately determine the positive effects of implementing strategies of light exercise breaks or how much exercise might mitigate the effects.

But, Dr. David Alter, of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and senior author of the research, did offer some tips on ways to limit sitting and its impact, including:

  1. While working at a desk, be sure to get up for one to three minutes every half-hour or so and move around.
  2. While watching TV, stand or exercise during the advertisements (and no, don’t go snack in the kitchen).
  3. Monitor how much you sit, and try to reduce it by realistic increments every week. You should aim for two to three fewer sedentary hours in a 12-hour day. A wearable monitor can help establish a baseline and assess progress toward a goal.
  4. Know that getting regular exercise is good for you regardless of what you do for the rest of the day: It will not only help reduce your sedentary time, it should lower your risk of illness and improve your survival prospects if you have no alternative to logging long hours in a chair.

So, on that note, I think I’ll get up and go for a run!

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