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  • Michael Sparks, MD

How Sitting Too Much at Work Can Harm Your Health

Do you spend most of your workday sitting at your desk, staring at your computer screen, and barely moving? If so, you might be putting your health at risk. Recent research investigated the impact of occupational sitting and leisure-time physical activity on mortality risk. Let's explore the health impacts of occupational sitting time, and what you can do to reduce them.

Empty Desk

The Health Risks of Occupational Sitting Time

Prolonged occupational sitting is associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality (death for any reason) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality. Other complications include diabetes, obesity, musculoskeletal problems, and poor mental health.

Recent research showed that individuals who mostly sit at work had higher mortality risks than individuals who alternate between sitting and non-sitting at work and individuals who increase leisure-time physical activity.

How to Reduce the Health Impacts of Occupational Sitting Time

  • Alternate between sitting and non-sitting. This could include using a standing desk or walking laps around the office/house for 5 minutes every 30 to 60 minutes.

  • Engaging in daily 15-30 minutes of leisure-time physical activity can mitigate the adverse effects of prolonged sitting.

  • Even for individuals who mostly sit at work, increasing leisure activity can reduce mortality risk to levels similar to those who don’t sit much at work.

As our lifestyles and careers have changed, prolonged occupational sitting has become normal. I get it, it is usually outside of your control. However, it is clear that this is negative for our health. The good news is that a few simple tasks will help offset these negative health impacts!


JAMA Netw Open. 2024;7(1):e2350680. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.50680

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