It often seems like our modern world was designed to keep us sitting down. Think about it: when you use a computer, watch television, drive, or work at a desk — you sit.

On average, global studies have shown that we sit 7.7 hours a day — with some people sitting as many as 15 hours. If you’re curious how long you personally sit, you can calculate the hours here: http://www.juststand.org/Tools/SittingCalculator/tabid/866/language/en-US/Default.aspx

But whether you’re sedentary for seven hours or 15, I think we can agree that it’s a lot compared to the hours we spend each week being active. And the harsh reality is that this kind of behavior could be killing us.

Annals of Internal Medicine released a new report that found such sedentary behavior increases a person’s chance of developing a disease that could lead to premature death. Canadian researchers analyzed 47 cases and concluded that the amount of sitting we do each day outweighs the benefits of working out.

The wear and tear on our bodies from sitting for eight to twelve hours a day or more can lead to death from cardiovascular disease, cancer and Type 2 diabetes. This study, and ones like it, have led the World Health Organization to name physical inactivity as the fourth-leading cause of death.

Martha Grogan, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic, said “For people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking.”

While this fact is a hard one to swallow, it’s one we all need to be aware of so we can consciously make an effort to alter our lifestyles.

So what can you do to cure yourself of this “sitting disease?”

1. Be aware of how much you are sitting. It’s easy to get caught up in a busy workday, but if you make the effort to keep track of the amount you spend sitting, you’ll be able to adjust your habits accordingly.

2. Standing is the best remedy. Believe it or not, standing is like walking — it increases energy, burns more calories, improves posture (which tones muscles), increases blood flow and speeds up metabolism. However, standing all day also isn’t practical, so try alternating at regular intervals between sitting and standing.

3. Find as much time as possible to work out or get active — whether you go to the gym or go for a swim.

4. Help combat sitting by arming your body with heart healthy foods. Try leafy greens and colorful vegetables instead of fried or greasy foods.

5. Vitamins. Supplements can contribute to keeping your body balanced. Try taking fish oil, vitamin D, or magnesium.

Bottom line, it starts with awareness. So sit less and live longer.

Hope it helps!

wenzelDr. Aaron Wenzel M.D.| Founder of Bariform