4 ways to combat sitting disease

Here are 4 ways to cut down on sedentary time during your day. Getty Images

TORONTO – New Canadian research is warning that sitting for long periods of time increases your risk of disease and death, even if you’re making time for the gym.

Canadian scientists at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute say 30 minutes to an hour of being on your feet isn’t enough to stave off disease.

“What we found was that sitting time is linked to higher risk of death, higher risk of heart disease, higher risk of cancer, cancer-related deaths, heart disease-related deaths and diabetes,” the study’s lead author, Dr. David Atler, told Global News.

READ MORE: Why too much sitting time increases risk of disease even if you exercise

“If you exercise, let’s say vigorously for one hour, which is fantastic, you should not count that you are fully protected if the rest of your day you spend completely inactive,” Dr. Mladen Golubic, a Cleveland Clinic lifestyle medicine expert, said.

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Here are 4 ways to cut down on sedentary time during your day:

Set a reminder

Golubic suggests setting reminders on your phone or computer that’ll push you to get out of your seat or off the couch.

“Put a reminder every 45 minutes, or maybe hour, to kind of stand up for a few minutes, just stretch, just walk around, or even during commercials. Just use any opportunity to interrupt these long periods of sitting,” he suggested.

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Monitor how often you’re sitting, then cut back

“The first step is to monitor sitting times—once we start counting, we’re more likely to change our behaviour,” Atler said.

He told Global News he always gets a pulse on how his patients are faring in an average day and helps them set attainable goals, even if it’s two minutes of activity every 30 minutes.

“They’re very simple things and the cool thing about it is that these little simple things, if we count the energy burn and [the effect it could have] on survival, they add up to a lot of calorie burn, expenditure burn, metabolism burn in a day,” Atler explained.
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READ MORE: Doctor calls on Canadians to ditch the shortcuts, add time on their feet

If you’re on the fence, he suggests thinking of the long-term effects of these small changes over the course of a week, and even a lifetime.


This is a simple measure that’s often overlooked. If you’re in a meeting, stand. If you’re watching TV, folding laundry or handling other chores around the house, stand up.

“That’s twice as many calories – it goes from 70 an hour calorie burn to 140 calories burned just standing and doing my work,” Atler points out.

Add activity into your routine

Walk or bike to work. Instead of taking the elevator to your office, use the stairs. And if you have to commute, get off the bus a stop early or park further away than you need to.  If you can persuade your colleagues, give walking meetings a try.

When Atler is working or surfing the web, he brings his laptop to the elliptical or stationary bike so he’s multitasking.

During your lunch breaks, spare an extra 10 minutes for heading outside to take a walk.

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