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The Dangers of Sitting Disease

By  | Healthy Living – Wed, Oct 3, 2012 12:59 PM EDT

Spending hours on end in a chair isn’t just murder on your back–it can literally kill you. And if you’re like the average person, you clock almost 55 hours a week on your duff.

Three years ago, Women’s Health was among the first to expose sitting disease. The gist: Too much inactivity can leave you prone to such deadly ailments as heart disease and obesity. The advice: Get moving. But Americans haven’t budged much. The only real momentum has been in the lab, where research has found that inactivity can also damage your mind, sleep cycle, and organs.


It could even shorten your life: Women who sit for more than six hours a day have a roughly 40 percent higher risk of dying from any cause, regardless of their fitness level, versusthose who sit for fewer than three hours. Are you reading this at work? Here are 4 Ways to Reboot Your Work Health, Starting Now.

“The human body evolved to move around,” says James Levine, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic. “Yes, there are times to sit, but we put our feet up now more than ever. It’s unnatural and hazardous to our health.” Young women are especially prone: Research shows they spend more time on their bums than others. Devastating news, considering immobility can start wreaking havoc quickly. Behold, the science behind sitting disease and how to sidestep its risks. Shockingly, working out isn’t an antidote. Here, what is.

Your Sleep When you’re plopped in a chair for hours, gravity and a lack of circulation can cause fluid buildup in your lower legs. An unsexy pair of cankles isn’t the worst of it: When you later lie down to
sleep, that fluid migrates to the muscles and tissues of your neck and may force your throat to swell, says Douglas Bradley, M.D., director of The Centre for Sleep Medicine and Circadian Biology at the University of Toronto. You may have a harder time sucking in air and might even stop breathing for short periods during the night, a serious condition called sleep apnea that can leave sufferers feeling zombie-like.

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