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This Daily Habit Is Rapidly Aging Your Body, Science Says

Research shows that sitting too long may be just as dangerous as smoking cigarettes.

If you work in an office or from home, you probably know all too well how it feels to sit for hours on end without any time for breaks in between. If this is your daily experience, you are likely experiencing pain and stiffness throughout the day. Furthermore, research suggests too much sedentary time might contribute to additional health complications, too.

A report published by JAMA Cardiology in June 2022 revealed how sitting too long impacted people from 21 different countries. While this study is one of the largest to be released on this topic, but it isn't the first to reveal the difficult truth about what a sedentary lifestyle can do for your health. This and other studies on this topic released over the last decade have found that sitting for long periods of time every day without breaks can rapidly age your body in a number of ways.

Read on to learn more about how this daily habit is rapidly aging you, and for more healthy aging tips check out 8 Eating Habits To Slow Brain Aging.

How long-term sitting may accelerate aging—and could have fatal consequences

woman in pain sitting

Office jobs have always posed a threat to finding movement throughout your day. But with the work-from-home life becoming much more common over the last few years with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, even more people are finding themselves sitting at their desks or on their couches for hours on end. This, unfortunately, may be wreaking havoc on the health of multiple populations.

The JAMA Cardiology study found that all the populations they studied had results proving that more time sitting amounted to a greater risk of health complications. Per an article in ScienceAlert expounding on the JAMA Cardiology study, sitting between six and eight hours a day "increases the relative risk of heart disease and premature death by around [12–13%], compared to people who sit less than four hours per day. Bump that time up to eight hours or more, and the relative risk lurches to an astonishing 20[%]."

Plenty of other research has found similar conclusions regarding the adverse effects of sitting for extended periods of time throughout the day. A report published in 2019 in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that longer periods of sitting on a daily basis were associated with an increased risk of both diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Additionally, another 2017 study from The Journal of Lifestyle Medicine assessing the habits of office workers concluded that long daily sitting times—also between six and eight hours—were associated with hypertension and musculoskeletal disorder symptoms in the body.

The Mayo Clinic also warns people of the dangers of sitting for hours on end without taking movement breaks, claiming that making this a  routine habit can be linked to health complications like high blood pressure, obesity, high blood sugar, and also excess visceral fat-the type of fat that lives around your organs near your abdomen. In fact, after reportedly reviewing 13 studies addressing sitting time versus amount of one's amount of daily activity, Mayo Clinic researchers concluded that "those who sat for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to that posed by obesity and smoking."

Though an alarming statistic, thankfully, changing up habitual sedentariness may be easier than you think.

The #1 Longevity Workout Every 60-Year-Old Needs

Incorporating more daily movement into your lifestyle

These findings may seem bleak, but there is hope in combating the effects of long-term sitting. Although many of us need to continue sitting for multiple hours a day to get our jobs done, research shows that even adding just an hour of movement a day can have tremendously positive effects. For instance, a 2016 study from the University of Cambridge found that 60–75 minutes of moderate exercise daily, which includes a brisk walk or bike ride, may possibly eliminate the adverse effects of aging as well as the increased risk of premature death attached to sitting for too long.

While this may not be possible every day due to busy schedules or other common factors, it's promising to know that something as simple and low-impact as a walk can potentially make a difference in improving your health, in addition to engaging in other forms of exercise. So if you work in an office or work at home, try a morning stroll or evening walk after dinner. Also, when given an option between taking the stairs or riding an elevator, opt for getting more steps in to counter the effects of unavoidable, extended periods of time in your seat. Your body will thank you!

Samantha Boesch
Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha