How many hours do you spend sitting in a day? At work, on the drive or ride home, and in front of the television. In fact, chances are you’re probably sitting while reading this.

“While a brief period of sitting here and there is natural, sitting for long periods of time can seriously impact your health, with research showing that having inadequate physical activity can cause a host of health risks,” says Dr Bernice Liu, Senior Physiotherapist, Department of Physiotherapy, Sengkang General Hospital (SKH), a member of the SingHealth group.

Death by sitting

In a study* that compares adults who sat longer, it was discovered:

Adults who spend less than 2hrs a day sitting in front of the TV or other screen-based entertainment, faced 50 per cent increased risks of death from any cause

Adults who spend more than 4hrs a day sitting to enjoy recreational screen time, faced 125 per cent increased risks of heart attack, chest pain or similar ailment

*Extracted from What are the risks of sitting too much? By James A. Levine

Inactivity is the new epidemic

Physical inactivity has been identified as the fourth leading risk factor for global deaths, causing approximately 3.2 million deaths each year. It is a serious yet insufficiently addressed health problem, with the World Health Organisation reporting that 1 in 4 adults globally is not active enough and more than 80% of the world’s young population – from both developed and developing countries – lead sedentary lifestyles.

A Singapore National Health survey in 2010 also showed that only 19 per cent of adults aged 18 to 69 years old exercise regularly and more than half of people in Singapore do not exercise during their leisure time.

Sitting too much and its risks

Advances in today’s modern world have reduced our need to stay active, with people ending up sitting for many hours at a time, day after day. This leads to:

  • Raised risks of heart disease and stroke, diabetes and obesity, high blood pressure, cancer and depression
  • Poor posture and slouching, neck and back pain, osteoporosis, and increased predisposition to falls and injury

Read on for tips on how to increase movement at work, in school and at home.

Ref: N18