The high cost of sitting

After last week’s totally goofy fitness “advice,” this Friday I have a guest post that’s a little more serious. We all knew about the dangers of the natural disasters that hit us last week. Now fitness expert Darvis Simms alerts us to a new danger lurking in our living rooms:

I just got back from an annual weekend Fitness Symposium where I learned many interesting things. However, the most shocking fact was the health care cost of inactivity is approximately $150 billion per year. That is the cost of not moving enough to see any kind of health benefits associated with regular exercise. Sitting Is Hazardous To Your Health!

Fitness Friday warning - Sitting May be Hazardous to your Health!

WARNING - This chair could be very dangerous!

The 2007 Physical Activity Guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association for men and women under the age of 65 is:

* Moderate cardiovascular activity 30 minutes per day, 5 days each week, OR
* Vigorous cardiovascular activity 20 minutes per day, 3 days each week, AND
* 8 – 10 strength training exercises (8-12 repetitions each), 2 times each week.

And for men and women over age 65 and over:

* Moderate cardiovascular activity 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week, OR
* Vigorous cardiovascular activity 20 minutes per day, 3 days per week, AND
* 8 – 10 strength training exercises (10-16 repetitions each) 2 to 3 times each week, AND
* Balance exercises, if at risk of failing.

Where in both cases Moderate equals activities that reasonably accelerate the heart rate, such as a brisk walk, and Vigorous equals activities causing a rapid increase in heart rate, such as jogging.

Now the benefits of adhering to the above exercise guidelines are:

* Reduced stress, depression and anxiety
* Lowered risk of stroke
* Lowered incidence of breast cancer in women
* Reduced blood pressure
* Increased function and mobility with less pain in arthritis sufferers
* Improved total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels
* Enhanced cardioprotection of cardiovascular disease
* Improved body composition and weight management
* Increased bone density for a reduction of risk of osteoporosis
* Improved blood triglycerides and HDL levels
* Better management of diabetes
* Lower incidence of colon cancer.

Most people know the benefits of regular exercise, and still the majority of our population spend 75 to 95 percent of their day seated. According to the Center for Disease Control, 25 percent of Americans report no physical activity during leisure time and 50 percent do not accumulate 30 minutes of moderate activity on most days of the week.

After seeing these facts, my advise to everyone is to get off your seat and start moving. Sitting is indeed hazardous to your health.


Darvis Simms is a personal trainer, fitness coach, and the owner of Fit To Be. His new book, FOREVER FIT AND FIRM, focuses on reaching fitness goals after age 40.  To learn more, visit his website at

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6 Responses to “The high cost of sitting”

  1. Karen Cioffi says:

    Great information and reminder. With all the media and entertainment outlets, people, including children, are becoming much more stationary.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Kate says:

      You’re right – we get so engrossed in all the entertainment that we don’t realize how long we’ve been watching or playing and time just slips away. I like the commercial where the dad comes home from work and finds everyone plugged in so he turns off the electricity and pretends they’ve had a power outage so they have to have a cookout and sit outside and talk to each other. We had a night like that after the hurricane. I hope it doesn’t take another one of those to get us away from all the screens!

  2. Farrah says:

    Good post! Now it’s time to get up from my desk chair to the kitchen for coffee and then to another more comfortable chair to read. But later today I PROMISE to get more active.

  3. I try to take a walk everyday for twenty minutes, while the weather is nice.

    • Kate says:

      That’s great! If you make it a habit, you may even find yourself going when the weather is not so nice. On those days, I find I enjoy the inside of my house much more than usual…

  4. V.R. Leavitt says:

    Excellent post…both my jobs, day job and writing, have me planted in a chair most of the day. I’m glad I get to walk my daughter to school in the mornings and I try to take breaks throughout the day to avoid sitting all day.