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Sitting Is Killing You [Infographic]

You’ve probably had a sneaking suspicion all that sitting isn’t so great for you and it turns out you’re right. Sitting is killing you; check out this infographic for the scientific low down.

The health impact of sitting is a topic of hot discussion these days– The New York Times covered the topic last month–and for good reason. All along we’ve known that sitting all day isn’t great for you but emerging research indicates that it’s not just a poor alternative to spending your day hiking the Appalachian Trail, it actually alters our bodies and decreases our health and lifespan. Check out the full infographic above, courtesy of MedicalBillingandCoding.org for more stats and information.

Sitting Is Killing You [MedicalBillingandCoding via Daily Infographic]

Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 05/10/11

Comments (49)

  1. Hatryst

    Who makes these infographics? And the ‘genius’ people at MedicalBilling&Co. who made this, can they please tell us a posture other than sitting that would allow us to be productive and relaxed at the same time? Sitting is good, only if you exercise to compensate for the calorie burning that didn’t take place while you were sitting. If you don’t exercise, then surely sitting isn’t good, I agree.

  2. Alec

    People keep creating this information about how sitting is killing us but no one gives actually advise on how to cure the problem besides “Dont sit down” which is fine but whats the ratios. 30 minutes seated 5 minutes walking? or 5 minute run?

    The infographic just seems like scare mongering. Especially the part about tv “tv = 11% higher death risk”.

    Provide solutions, we already know about the problems.

  3. Jason Fitzpatrick

    @Hatryst/Alex: I just raised the surface of my desk a foot or so and stand all the time. I’ve been standing at my desk for around half a year now. I love it… I move more, I walk in place, I’m more likely to move around my office and go get things (when you’re sitting you want to say sitting). I get so much more done.

  4. Uncle Mikey

    At my current contract, there’s a fellow who has partially dismantled a treadmill — basically taken the belt assembly and the control panel off their frames so he can lay the belt assembly down on the floor of his cube and have the control panel on a shelf just underneath his monitors, which are of course now placed at the proper eye height for someone walking on the belt. He walks as he works, *all day long*. Never very fast, but that’s not the point. He’s moving while he’s coding.

    I don’t know if I could actually do that, but I have no doubt whatsoever that he’s coming out of each day way ahead of me, health and fitness-wise. I am planning to start experimenting with more of a sit-stand working environment, with an aim to seeing how long my back will tolerate standing-work.

  5. Jason Fitzpatrick

    @Uncle Mikey: I scored a treadmill off Craigslist super cheap. The owner was selling it because the belt would slip if you cranked it up above 3 MPH. Since a walking desk only needs a belt that moves at 0.5 to 1.0 MPH it was a perfect match. Some time this summer I’m going to hack it apart and convert my standing desk to a walking desk.

  6. co

    Fcuk no! Remember the Obeze God of Fertility Figurine found from the old days. If obesity is a sickness of today, then what the fcuk was that? Believe nothing you hear, cause people love to lie!

  7. tshego

    nutin

  8. Hatryst

    @Jason: You gotta be kidding… :D
    What do you do when you feel the urge to sit? That’s a unique idea BTW…

  9. Paul

    Maybe sitting is killing us, but apparently so’s salt, pollution, stress, smoking, alcohol, red meat, air travel, global warming and virtually everything else. And yet… despite all that, average life expectancy is longer than it’s ever been. Who’d have thought it?

  10. Mats Svensson

    I sit on a big inflatable exercise ball.

    Keeps you active, gives you better posture and its comfortable.

    And its more fun too.

  11. Jason Fitzpatrick

    @Hatryst: After around five months of using the standing desk I thought it might be nice to get an engineering stool for those times I felt like sitting. I got the stool… used it for maybe an hour or two the first week, and since then I’ve just used it as a little table in my office. Sitting at the computer feels unnatural now and it makes me sleepy and uncomfortable. About the only time I sit these days is to eat meals (and I find myself wanting to stand).

    The first month is rough (your back and abdominal muscles have to toughen up after years of sitting) but after that it’s smooth sailing.

  12. Garaidh

    Simplistic FUD cooking data to support a desired conclusion – pseudoscience at its worst. If the “info”graphic creator had presented sitting as a possible component then it might have been slightly valid, slightly. As it’s presented it’s a disservice to people that actually do study causes of health issues in the modern world. The idiot that put this together should take a basic statistics class or two – if they know how to properly interpret statistics then it’s just blatant fearmongering. Very bad disinformation – please disregard this (dis)infographic.

  13. stout

    I believe this is a joke about how Americans are lazy. Apparently I’m the only one who got it LOL.

  14. ChrispyCritter

    @Paul You’re most likely wrong about salt now they are saying not enough of it causes strokes and heart attacks. Are nervous systems require salt. I don’t buy into a lot of what they say about things because it changes constantly. We need a good amount of meat in our diets because we are carnivorous with our forward looking eyes ;) In fact I feel at my best after eating a nice big juicy steak.

    What most doctors know is health is mostly luck and genes. Sure if you have a lot of family heart conditions and cancers it is probably good to change your diet somewhat but I don’t think as drastically as they say. Pollution is probably killing us more than any of those other things IMO.

    One thing I have read about that I believe is eating less over a lifetime probably equals a longer lifespan because burning calories is using up cells and we can only make so many cells in a lifetime. If you see what is in common with people that live to 100 they did what they wanted,ate what they wanted and had little stress but they ate in moderation.

  15. Matt

    The last part makes no sense. I’ll give it that 100 years ago obesity was less of a problem, but 100 years the toll that work took on the human body was worse than the toll sitting has taken. Go back even farther and the you were lucky to make it to 50 years old. Most of that is because farmers and factory workers tore up their body.

    All things considered the avg life span is still longer today than 100 years ago and certainly higher than 200 years ago. Sitting is probably not killing us.

  16. somas

    These days i also lye down not only sitting. while working yes of course long hours of sitting is guaranteed in India.Physical activity jogging walking and yoga defenetely helps.
    The article is well perceived and touches one deeply. Be with god or meditation and be happy.
    Being happy takes the root cause of problems to an extent.
    Recommend reading of this write up on sitting.
    I liked it
    somajee

  17. jasray

    Guess I’m lucky because my job allows standing, walking stairs, sitting, going outside for walks, etc., and I certainly not going to challenge the referenced statistics. Quite frankly, if I sit too long, I get horrible headaches, and that is enough proof to “keep moving.”

    Nevertheless, it’s a lot like the “smoking is bad for your health” conundrum. My uncle smoked his entire life and died happily ever after at 94. My aunt sits all of the time and has been for maybe the last 20 years: She’s 89. I visit her out in California at retirement home. People sitting everywhere, all DAY long for days and days and weeks and years (waiting to die I suppose). Most of these people are well over 80; one guy just reached 104.

    So maybe the average “sitter” hurts his/her health like the average “smoker” hurts his/her health.

    I am wondering if all of this sitting/smoking bad-for-your-health debates leave out the “happiness” factor. People who sit around all of the time or smoke every 30 minutes have a different attitude about life, and it is the attitude that determines the length of life–not the smoking or the sitting.

    Yes, it’s all in the head.

  18. Sam

    1 in 3 Americans *are* obese. Not is.

    No you shut up!!

  19. Alec

    @Jason

    The standing desk is interesting. Do you soley use a standing desk and if so what did you build/buy it from?

    For the time being I am trying a new approach, 55 minutes of coding, 5 minutes outside in the fresh air with a brisk walk.

  20. Sam

    Oh. And I have a folding table thing for my laptop so I can type in bed, but you can fold it out like a little table and it’s the perfect height, when put on a desk, to type standing up. It’s actually really fun. Put on some music and dance while programming.

    One other thing. I’ve been sitting pretty much for a whole year and I’m still underweight. So screw you biology!!!

  21. Dave

    You can actually buy desks that were made for standing. And while I have no doubt that standing is better than sitting, let’s all remember that correlation is not causation…
    Andhere’s another fun fact: in countires where the norm is “squatting” rather than the typical USA style toilet, hemorrhoids are almost unheard of!

  22. bobro

    I know humans have never really sat for long periods of time but isnt this all part of evolution…?

    Im feeling pretty good sat down right now.

  23. bigjohnt

    Doesn’t anybody know how to use “Spell Check”, or just too lazy. It only takes one right-click.

  24. Rick

    I spent years of my IT career sitting on my 3rd point of contact. I was over 200lbs for the last six years.

    A couple of months ago I bought an old IKEA Jerker desk and configured it for standing. Then last month I modified it and a treadmill so I could work out while working. My treadmill desk now has me under 200lbs. I altered my diet a little bit (no more sodas) and I’m well on my way to my goal of 180lbs or less.

    Pics here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rboyett/sets/72157626275797289/with/5710188919/

    I spent $80 for the Jerker desk off Craigslist and bought the treadmill used for $300 (which actually went to charity).

    I should note that just standing can be pretty hard on your feet, even with a pad underneath them. However walking seems to put a lot less stress on them. I find it very easy to walk 7 to 10 miles in a single day at 1mph while still getting my work done. I can speed it up to 3.5mph when just surfing or listening in on conference calls..

  25. sonja rikel

    what the problem? put the butplug in your ass no matter if you male or woman it makes you be in motion :)))

  26. Evaristo

    I REALLY love the main font used in the image. What’s the name?

  27. GabeM

    What about a mini cycle that goes under your desk? would that solve as much of the problem as a walking desk? It would be easier to accomplish a setup like that without buying a new desk and a treadmill.

  28. thenerdherd

    You can sit up straight as LONG as you are engaging your abs (and getting up frequently as the infographi advises). You know how they tell you to suck it in and flex your stomach at the gym? Same logic. This takes the strain off your back. If you sat at a 135 degree angle all day you’d have terrible posture.

  29. Erik

    CO – “Fcuk no! Remember the Obeze God of Fertility Figurine found from the old days. If obesity is a sickness of today, then what the fcuk was that? Believe nothing you hear, cause people love to lie!”

    Just because you’re overweight doesn’t mean your body is actually out of shape. There have been plenty of studies done to prove that weight isn’t a direct cause of health issues but the reason for that weight or on the opposite end, lack of weight can be a symptom.

  30. Colter

    HOW TO FIX IT!!!! HERE IT IS PEOPLE!~! Get a treadmill desk. These are super slow walking desks. There are also standing desks. Smart people use these!!

  31. KB

    I’m a lifer in the restaurant business. What does “sitting” mean?

  32. Tracey

    This is all quite remarkably silly. I fail to see why I should take MedicalBillingAndCoding’s word for any of this; their website is all about encouraging more people to become medical students and promoting medical jobs.

    Clearly, then, it is in MedicalBillingAndCoding’s interest to frighten people into believing that they must exercise more and must see their doctors more. The 135-degree angle, by the way, is precisely the way that my physical therapist tells me NOT to sit; she says that it puts too much pressure on the lower back.

    I think I’ll get my medical info from trained medical personnel, and not from a website using scare tactics and factoids.

  33. 1377 H4CK

    I like to sit. My gf likes to sit on top of me. Together we exercise while sitting.

  34. Archangel

    And life finds yet another way to screw us wheelchaired bound once more

  35. 12@G3

    @1377 H4Ck hahhahahaa good1 … Very usefull information and feedbacks

  36. Jason Fitzpatrick

    @Alec: My standing desk conversion was pretty simple. I had a desk that was a door atop two filing cabinets. To turn it into a standing desk raised the desk surface by placing milk crates between the filing cabinets and the desk. I did it that way to see if I’d like the standing desk (zero cost, easy to reverse). I liked it so much that I left it that way.

    One thing that helps if you’re hacking together a desk like I did… get a nice adjustable keyboard tray. That way if your hacked together desk height is off by an inch or two you can simply adjust the keyboard tray to the perfect height.

    The next step, for my setup, is to get out the hack saw and start converting this treadmill into the base of my treadputer.

  37. Ivo

    Actually, last year I bought an small office desk which can move up and down. Which is fantastic primarily because I like to stand up when I have fun with my computer.

  38. Matt

    Sitting at 135 degrees MAY take strain off your back, but the migraines, neck, and shoulder pain you’d end up with would be killer.

  39. Span

    If only it was like the good old days when you died too young to worry about important things like sitting too much.

  40. Jack

    Oh, good. Now that I know that the 30 minutes of activity I do 4 times a week isn’t enough, I might as well just stop altogether. Total unsupported rubbish.

  41. aram

    hi !

  42. Cindy Lavoie

    My work puts me in front of a computer 8-9 hours/day. You don’t need to tell me this is bad for my health — and certainly for my figure! I can feel the spread happening every day! My solution has been to move from a desk to a bookcase as my workstation. I have a bookcase with a top shelf just the height of my eyes, a second shelf at the height of my elbows. Laptop goes on the top shelf, separate keyboard on the next. It not only makes me sit less, it stops me from slumping, lets me do stretching exercises while I work (that’s right, I’m doing it now), and I’m convinced it helps me think more clearly too. Try it!

  43. Ruby

    30 minutes of vigorous activity a day is great, but if you’re sitting the rest of the day, yep- you’ll suffer. My massage clients who work at desks have the most problems.

    I work in front of a computer sometimes 6-8 hours a day. I do some writing while sitting and then when I shift to other tasks, I move my computer to a bookshelf that’s about mid-torso height. I move around while I’m standing. It’s possible without buying an expensive hydraulic desk! Yeah… Cindy, you’re on the right track!

    Also, it’s easier to take a computer break when you’re already standing!

  44. Arno Nuehm

    This “infographic” is just UTTER BULLSHIT!

    Fact #1: People in “tribal” cultures sit most of the day, too (albeit not on chairs but cross-legged on the ground).

    Fact #2: Agriculture required not much work originally. It was “invented” BECAUSE it required so little work. Just seed, occasionally(!) tend the crops, and finally harvest. This was only a few days work in a whole year. Stressful work only started with the mass-enslavement of people by feudalism, and even more so, capitalism.

    Fact #3: Obesity is not the result of sitting, it is the result of an unphysiological diet, namely a non-vegan one. Humans are habituous omnivores (with an enormous intake of meat compared to actual omnivores in nature, where it means “CAN eat anything”, NOT “MUST eat everything”!), but physiologically we are frugivores, a sub-class of herbivores.

  45. Helio Campos Ferreira

    O tema nós alerta para esta realidade virtual, eu atualmente trabalho 10 horas por dia em
    serviços técnicos, manutenção de audio e Video, quando termino meus trabalhos me
    envolvo em outro relacionados a serviços e estudos, são mais 8 a 9 horas por dia, somando
    são no minimo 16 á 17 horas por dia, Eu tenho que diminuir o ritimo em 4 horas e me dedicar
    2 a 3 horas de exercicios por 2 a 3 dias por semana, vai ser bom para coluna, nervos, juntas,
    e o próprio Coração.

  46. Dhimsy

    It’s not easy as it sounds. But it does help.

  47. sami

    Could they at least explain what they mean by improved death risk? I assume exercising will make me live longer, but it isnt going to reduce my chances of death. Ultimately the chance of death is 100%.

  48. M.A.

    You know what I think is so ridiculous (besides me commenting ~2 months after the last comment)? That the people who comment on this stuff and criticize it attempt to use such narrow-minded, analytical, 6.99333333 (repeating of course!), there’s-a-problem-so-what-do-I-need-for-me-to-be-even-lazier-yet-get-handed-an-easier-solution? type of thinking that it shows how idiotic our society’s approach to living a somewhat balanced life is!

    Just get up! OUT of the chair! Yes, you (!) actually have to take your pale, sweaty, doughy body outside, or at least away from the monitor for 10 seconds, to walk around, make a decent meal for yourself, go somewhere on a whim, walk for a night, etc.–just do anything! Be creative! Children under the age of 5 have even been known to manage this.

    “..But do I need to walk or run for 5.5 minutes for every 5 hours I play online games?”
    “…it’s obvious there’s a problem, but you just say not to sit! I mean, how are we supposed to know what exactly to do and for exactly how long to get maximum results?!”

    In a country where people constantly ramble (like me…sorry, but how people respond when there encouraged to make changes that will probably help with 99% of the things they’re moaning about, and these changes are so amazingly simple-and free!-better yet, they will save us all a lot of money!, I find it hard to believe people can respond with anything except:
    “Yes, I should go take a walk around the block or ride a bike somewhere. Thank you for the reminder, kind sir.”
    -but I guess people are just waiting for “scientists” ,and the day they can deal with it just like all other health problems, by going to the doctor to get a magic pill.

    I mean, c’mon people, the whole point is: Doing anything is better than doing nothing. Plain and simple. Even if your flabby, even if you don’t look like John Basedow tomorrow, you should still make a concerted effort to do this every day, and I promise you, you will feel so damn much better. Who doesn’t want that?

  49. texas+ranger

    there is no such thing as ‘compensating’ sitting with excersise.

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