The human body was designed for walking, and people did a whole lot of that for millenniums. But lately, not so much. In general, scientists believe, Americans now sit for more than half of their waking hours. Sadly, the sitting position exerts forces on the body that it’s not built to accommodate, Davtyan says, and so, as comfy as it may seem, couch potato-hood can lead to a host of woes, including poor circulation and assorted aches and pains.
We’re not using much energy when we’re sitting still, which is no doubt part of its appeal. But, of course, “not using much energy” is just another way of saying “not burning many calories,” which is just another way of saying “watch out for extra pounds.” “There is debate as to whether it is the chair or the knife and fork that have caused the increase in obesity rates,” Levine writes in a 2012 article. A person with a desk job may burn 300 calories a day at work, he reports, but that same person might burn 2,300 calories a day in a job that requires considerable physical effort.
Sitting at your desk for hours on end, slaving away diligently, can increase your chances of getting a promotion — but also diabetes, heart disease or even an early grave. A study published in the journal Diabetologia in November 2012 analyzed the results of 18 studies with a total of nearly 800,000 participants. When comparing people who spent the most time sitting with those who spent the least time, researchers found increases in the risks of diabetes (112%), cardiovascular events (147%), death from cardiovascular causes (90%) and death from all causes (49%).