Move! Sitting kills; Why is sitting for long periods of time fatal?

It has been proven long ago that exercise/sports is good for health. A new insight is that sitting for long periods of time is not good for your health. Scientists are becoming increasingly aware that a sedentary life will not last long. Many people sit for far too long in their daily lives. Just think of the ride to work on the train or car, then behind your desk, and when you get home you spend a lot of time behind the computer or in front of the television. All in all, about 85% of free time is spent sitting. It has now been proven that people who sit more than ten hours a day have a 40 to 60% higher chance of dying prematurely than people who sit less than four hours a day. It has also become clear that if you run for half an hour every day, but spend hours sitting during the day, running does not contribute to a longer life. So it’s high time to tackle your lifestyle!


  • Why does sitting for too long kill you?
  • Decrease in good cholesterol
  • Insulin resistance
  • Slower metabolism
  • Airplane thrombosis
  • What are the “old” health advice for exercise?
  • The new movement
  • This way you sit less
  • Cardio training
  • Weight training
  • Conclusion

Why does sitting for too long kill you?

Decrease in good cholesterol

Research has shown that good cholesterol (HDL) decreases when you sit for too long. This is a bad thing because HDL protects your body against cardiovascular disease.

Insulin resistance

Sitting for too long also causes more fats to enter your blood and makes you less sensitive to insulin. Insulin resistance leads to a large number of complaints and ailments.

Slower metabolism

If you sit for too long, you use your muscles less, which slows down your metabolism. When you stand, on the other hand, you use the large muscles in your body that are located not only in your legs, but also in your back and chest.

Airplane thrombosis

A different story is sitting too long while traveling. Every now and then we are startled by a traveler who dies of aircraft thrombosis after a long flight. Less serious – but no less annoying – effects of a long journey are painful legs or thrombosed legs.

What are the “old” health advice for exercise?

The Dutch Standard for Healthy Exercise (NNGB) prescribes moderately intensive exercise for half an hour (or 150 minutes per week) at least 5 days a week. This should be sufficient for good health.

“Moderately intensive exercise” means that you move in such a way that you breathe faster, your body temperature rises and your heart beats faster. Examples of “moderately intensive exercise” are: walking, cycling, Nordic walking, fitness and swimming.

The new movement

The new movement states that simply adhering to the NNGB is not enough for your health. You should also sit less throughout the day .

This way you sit less

  • alternate between sitting and standing during the day.
  • to work at a sit-stand desk
  • not to eat lunch at your desk, but to take a walk during the lunch break
  • Do short, simple exercises during the day.

You can easily alternate between sitting and standing by, for example, creating a reminder on your phone or computer and walking around for about 3 minutes every hour.

Sit-stand desks are height-adjustable desks, so it is not necessary to leave your desk every so often.

Cardio training

Of course, in addition to the new exercise, you should also continue to do your cardio training (running, spinning, rowing, aerobics, etc.). These are necessary for good endurance, low blood pressure, maintaining strong bones and maintaining weight. Cardio training does not have to be boring. Salsa dancing, for example, is also a good cardio exercise.

Weight training

Scientists also agree on the importance of strength training. Strengthening the muscles is vital. You can get started with dumbbells, kettlebells, a fitness ball or resistance bands. However, you do not have to use weights specifically for strength training. You can also use your own body weight. For example, consider doing squats (knee bends), push-ups and tricep dips.


The findings and recommendations outlined above are groundbreaking. And if you think carefully, you might find them logical. However, they also have many similarities with the active lifestyle of our ancestors. They did not sit quietly in their caves or huts for hours, but had to work for their food. The men went hunting and the women spent hours gathering fruits and nuts.

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