Is Sitting Bad For You?

Sitting for short periods of time isn’t a concern. Sitting for a long time in front of the TV, behind a desk at work or behind the wheel of a vehicle can be harmful.

What Happens When You Sit For An Entire Day?

a person sitting on a whole day

You could get Deep Vein Thrombosis – the most common type of blood clot, most common in the legs. People think of it as something you can only get on long airplane journeys. If part of this blood clot breaks off, then it could cut the blood flow to other parts such as the lungs causing a pulmonary embolism.

Other dangers

It is also well documented that a sedentary lifestyle affects your physical health by increasing the risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, forgetting about the havoc it can cause from a musculoskeletal standpoint.

Risk of sitting

Research says, sitting for a lengthy period causes obesity, metabolic syndrome – conditions such as excess fat around the waist, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol levels.

How sitting affects your hips and back

Your back and hips don’t support you well if you sit for long periods of time. Sitting causes the hip flexor muscles in the hips to shorten and that leads to hip, lower back and joint problems.

Sitting for a lengthy period can cause problems with your back particularly when you consistently sit with poor posture or don’t use ergonomically designed chairs.

Poor posture also causes poor spine health such as disc compression in the spine – leading to premature degeneration which is very painful.

How long can you sit at a time?

Experts suggest people stand in their workstations for about 15 minutes an hour. But a Waterloo University professor says their research shows people must be standing for at-least 30 minutes per hour to get maximum health benefits. Another piece of info states that getting up every twenty minutes is ideal as well.

What happens when crossing the legs?

crossing the leg

By crossing the legs, you are putting pressure on the peroneal nerve, located behind the knee, which provides the sensations to your foot and lower leg. Crossing the legs also increases blood pressure.

Side effects

  • Slower metabolism
  • Spine and back injuries
  • Low energy expenditure
  • Chronic pain
  • Metabolic syndrome

How Long Should You Stand Per Day?

Experts suggest you should stand up at work for at least 2 hours a day and work your way towards 4.

Age-specific Advice

Under 5 Years

Children under 5 years, are advised to limit the time they spend sitting, including travelling by bus, car, watching TV, and technology.

There is evidence that sedentary behavior in the early years is associated with childhood and adult obesity. Furthermore, there is strong evidence of lower cognitive development, but this is still up for debate.

Healthy patterns of behavior should be encouraged during initial stages or younger years to protect against the possible health problems in the future.

Tips to reduce sitting time,

  • Reduce time spent in front of the TV and technology
  • Reduce time spent in walking aids or baby bouncers
  • Reduce time spent in car seats or highchairs

Young People

For children aged 5 to 18 years, reduce sitting time involves moving both in and outside of the home.

Tips to reduce sitting time,

  • Make bedrooms a TV and computer free zone
  • Choose gifts such as skateboards, footballs, baseball bats etc. to encourage active play
  • Ask them to participate in housework such as setting the table, gardening or vacuuming.
  • Arrange some fun activities that include lots of movement


Those who are aged 19 to 64 are advised to sit down less during the day, including at work, whilst travelling and even at home.

Tips to reduce sitting time,

  • While travelling for a short distance, stand on the bus, or the train
  • At work, take a walking break every time you go for a coffee
  • While working on a laptop, just place it on a box or stand and work whilst standing up
  • Take the stairs and walk up escalators rather than a lift.
  • Get up every 20 min

Older Adults

Those over 65 should, where possible, should aim to minimize the time they spend sitting every day and stay active as long as possible.

Perform some tasks standing such as,

  • Chat with others whilst having a coffee
  • Cooking and baking

Tips to reduce sitting and staying active

  • Use stairs instead of using the lift
  • Avoid sitting in front of TV for long periods
  • Play with your grandchildren
  • Reacquaint yourself with the floor
  • Try gardening
  • Go for a walk


Counteract sitting

  • Rather than driving, just walk or take public transportation
  • Take extra time and do stretching exercises for hip flexors, calves and lower back muscles
  • Per hour – take at least 2-3, 5 min break from sitting at a desk
  • Stand up and stretch, a few jumping jacks goes along way
  • Do regular workouts
  • Work your core muscles at least twice a week with crunches, planks, etc.

Exercise might seem to be a time-consuming process and seems to require so much effort, but it is time well spent. Some might say like money in the bank. We used to think many ailments were simply normal and common in old age. Now we know it’s simply a lack of exercise.

About Fifth Avenue

Fifth Avenue Physical Therapy and Wellness was created at the onset of the new millennium in order to bridge the gap between strength and conditioning and rehabilitation. We have 2 clinics in New York (Grand Central & The Hamptons) and provide care to everyone at a level that Olympic athletes receive. The services we offer are physical therapyacupuncture, yoga, massage and more.

If you’re looking to build yourself up as an athlete, why not take personal training from us? Where better to train than a place that has built up professional athletes to the highest degree.

Contact Us

If you’re in pain and need help or looking for a service we can provide for you and you’re in New York, then please contact us on 212-529-5700. Or you can fill in your details on our contact page and we will get back to you.

Our professionals can analyze everything from your cardiovascular efficiency to your musculoskeletal movements and provide you with the right advice, treatment and care.