As desk jobs usually come as standard when we send off our CV, it’s no surprise that over 80% of Americans spend most of their day sitting down at work.

We all know that spending the day in a chair isn’t good for our health, but what actually happens when we sit in front of our computer all day? Can we actually counteract this during our precious hours of freedom from the office? TRAIN investigates.


What happens when we sit down?

As soon as our ass hits the chair, a lot of things happen in our body. Firstly, electrical activity drops by a third, which means the muscles basically stop dead. Secondly, calorie-burning rates falls to just one calorie per minute. Sounds scary, right? Well, that’s not all. After 24 hours of non-stop sitting we experience a 40% reduction in insulin effectiveness which increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

As inactivity continues, our bodies continue to fail. After two weeks of sitting over six hours a day, bad cholesterol (LDL) and fatty molecules (plasma triglycerides) levels surge. This combined with the reduction in insulin effectiveness means that our muscles halt fat intake and blood sugar levels increase, leaving us at risk of putting on a few extra pounds.


What are the risks?

Sitting down for over six hours a day has been linked to a plethora of health risks such as Type 2 diabetes, a 64% increased chance of heart disease as well as a seven-year reduction of your life.

The only shining light, in what otherwise seems like a black hole of doom, is that a lot of the evidence that links sitting and ill health is based on observational studies. Although we know that sitting isn’t great for you, it doesn’t mean it’s a direct cause of poor health.


How can we counteract the damage?

There are a few lifestyle changes we could all do to reverse the negative impact sitting at a desk all day has to our bodies.


Set an hourly alarm to walk around the office

Simply standing isn’t enough to reverse the damages done by sitting. Instead, take two minutes of light-intensity activity every hour. A study published by the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology revealed this could lower your risk of premature death by 33%.


Walk to a colleague to ask a question rather than emailing

This will help you be more active at work, but you’ll also avoid being misunderstood. A study revealed that you are 19% less likely to successfully predict whether the recipient will understand the tone of your email. So, it’s best to avoid a few awkward HR moments.


Stand on your commute (if you can)

By standing for your commute, you’ll be engaging your core as the train or bus throws you around.


Do exercises at work

You might feel silly at first but don’t worry, there’s no need to break a sweat in your work threads.


Receive fitness information, nutritional advice and a 12 month digital subscription when you sign up to the TRAIN newsletter.