Get Off Your Butt! Long Sits Erodes Health

Sitting may be the new 'smoking' creating health issues today and when you get older. Even if you work out, sitting too much leads to health issues and a higher risk of long-term care. Getting up and moving around helps.

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Get Off Your Butt! Long Sits Erodes Health
2 Min Read December 27th, 2015 Updated:May 24th, 2022

Are you sitting down as you read this article? Research suggests that sitting for long periods of time can lead to several health issues and even a shorter life even for active and healthy individuals.

The latest research -- published recently in the Annals of Internal Medicine -- finds that the risk of poor health "is more pronounced at lower levels of physical activity than at higher levels."

People who engage in regular physical activity but still spend much of the day in sedentary activity are 30% less likely to die of any cause in a given period than those who get little to no exercise. 

What about people who sit all day but have a vigorous workout? They were 16% more likely to die of any cause in a given time than those who did not sit for long.

Dr. Edward R. Laskowski, M.D. from the Mayo Clinic, says you use much less energy sitting than when you stand or move. 

Research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns. They include obesity and a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels — that make up metabolic syndrome.

Dr. Laskowski

He says that too much sitting also increases the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The research shows that dying from cardiovascular disease rises by about 18% when you spend long hours sitting. Other health problems resulting from long periods of sitting include a 13 to 16% higher risk of breast, colon, colorectal, endometrial, and endothelial ovarian cancers.

Sitting Leads to Back Problems and More

The UCLA Spine Center says that sitting for prolonged periods of time can be a significant cause of back pain, cause increased stress on the back, neck, arms, and legs, and can add tremendous pressure to the back muscles and spinal discs.

Many of these health issues can lead to early death and health issues leading to a higher risk of long-term health care. The impact of all this inactivity as we get older will lead to significant aging and health-related problems and the need for help with daily living activities. Your overall quality of life will suffer in your retirement years because of your inactivity today.

This inactivity will have consequences on your family, who may become your future caregiver or your finances as you pay for professional long-term care services. 

Dr. David Alter, scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and a senior author of the paper, offered tips on limiting sitting and its impact. 

He recommends:

  • While working at a desk, be sure to get up for one to three minutes every half-hour or so and move around.

  • While watching TV, stand or exercise during the advertisements.

  • 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. 

So many people today are seated glued to electronic devices, working at their desks, or at home watching TV. There are ways to still do those things and stay active and healthy. Some wearable monitors show you your activity and how many steps you are taking and even notify you when you should stand up.

Some Activity is Better Than None

Most experts suggest getting up from your sitting position every 30 minutes. Walking around, stretching, do anything other than sitting will be beneficial. Many executives, according to surveys, have gotten into the habit of standing as they are speaking on the phone. For example, some office workers have a workstation where their desks can rise, allowing them to stand during a Zoom meeting or conference call. 

If you are at home watching your favorite TV show or a football or baseball game, for example, stand during commercials, time-outs, etc. Once in the habit, it will become natural and lead to better overall health. Just find unique ways to get up and move around no matter what you are doing or how long you are doing it.

"Sitting is the new smoking," is a phrase coined by Mayo Clinic's Dr. James Levine. Unlike smoking, sitting is not an addictive drug, and you can start being more active no matter your current level of health and mobility. 

Know that getting frequent exercise is good for you regardless of what you do for the rest of the day: It will not only help reduce your inactive 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.

It appears you should get up and move around. Don't stay in a sitting position for long periods of time. Once in the habit, it will become natural and lead to better overall health.

No matter what we do over time, we will have declining health, our bodies will deteriorate, and we need help with normal living activities we take for granted today. We may not be able to avoid the consequences of aging and even long-term health care, but we can get more quality years by taking proactive action now.

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About the Author

An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

LTC News Contributor James Kelly

James Kelly

Contributor since August 21st, 2017

Editor's Note

Keeping active and being proactive with your health will all help, but aging happens no matter what. Many people will require assistance from others with their daily living activities and supervision due to dementia. This assistance is long-term health care, and there are financial and family consequences when we need help in the future.

Your health insurance, including Medicare and supplements, will only pay for a limited amount of days for skilled long-term health care - basically rehab services. Sometimes skilled services will last forever, but health insurance and Medicare will only pay for a limited amount for these services.

But most long-term health care is custodial care - help with daily living activities or supervision due to dementia. Traditional health insurance and Medicare will not pay for this type of extended care. Medicaid will pay for all types of long-term health care, but only if you have limited or no income and assets. 

Long-Term Care Insurance is the solution. When you own a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, you own a solution offering you access to your choice of quality care options, including in-home care services.

You cannot buy an LTC Insurance policy if you have multiple pre-existing health problems. You must have reasonably good health, but those requirements vary depending on the insurance company.

Most people obtain their coverage in their 50s when they can still take advantage of lower premiums and overall better health.

Seek Professional Help Planning for Long-Term Care

Experts recommend seeking the help of a qualified and experienced Long-Term Care Insurance specialist to help you find the right coverage. A specialist will match your age, health, and family history with the right coverage at the right price. 

Long-term care is a very specialized area, and few insurance agents and financial advisors have the expertise. Find a specialist who represents the top companies as premiums can vary over 100% between insurance companies. Leading specialists will often have over 500 clients with Long-Term Care Insurance.

A specialist will save you money, and you will have peace of mind knowing they are making the appropriate recommendations - Work With a Specialist | LTC News.

Planning Tools and Resources Available on LTC NEWS

Planning for the future is never easy, but long-term health care planning can be very complicated and comes with many emotions. Getting the right tools and resources will make the process much easier.

One of the goals is to reduce the stress and anxiety usually placed on your family at the time of crisis. LTC NEWS can be beneficial in providing you with important information for you to consider.

LTC NEWS has put in place several resources, including:

Find all the resources on LTC NEWS - Resources for Long-Term Care Planning | LTC News.

Need Help Now for Mom or Dad?

If your family is already in crisis and you need to find help for mom or dad, LTC NEWS can help. We have put together several comprehensive guides to help you in your process.

Start by reading our four guides -  

If your loved one is lucky enough to own a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, be sure they use it. Sometimes families wait, thinking they can save the benefits for a rainy day. Waiting on using available Long-Term Care Insurance benefits is not a wise idea. 

Get Assistance in Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim

Many insurance companies have issued Long-Term Care Insurance policies over the years. Filing a claim can sometimes be complicated unless you know what to do or get expert help and assistance. 

Don't allow the claim process to stop you from using the benefits available in an LTC policy. Quality care obtained early will help provide a better quality of life and reduce the risk of a deep decline and facility care. 

If you need help in starting the process of a Long-Term Care Insurance claim, LTC NEWS can help. LTC NEWS provides free assistance with no obligation to help you or a loved one complete the claims process with a Long-Term Care Insurance policy. We have teamed up with Amada Senior Care, who will do all the work - free with no obligation. 

Get help finding quality caregivers or long-term care facilities and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether a person has a policy. - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim | LTC News

Advantages of Reverse Mortgages 

Today's reverse mortgages for those aged 62 and older could be an ideal resource to fund a Long-Term Care Insurance policy OR even provide money to pay for care if you, or a loved one, already needs help and assistance. You might be eligible at younger ages as well. 

Some people have much of their savings invested in their homes. With today's reverse mortgages, you can find ways to fund care solutions, care itself, and even help with cash flow during your retirement. 

Learn more by asking questions to an expert. Mike Banner, LTC NEWS columnist and host of the TV Show "62 Who Knew" will answer your questions regarding caregiving, aging, health, retirement planning, long-term care, and reverse mortgages. 

- Just "Ask Mike." - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.

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You can write a story or ongoing column for LTC NEWS. You can write about many topics, including aging, caregiving, health, lifestyle, retirement planning, and long-term care, to name a few.

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Email your story idea or article: newsroom@ltcnews.com - LTC News Contributors | LTC News

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