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How to Break Up Your Sitting Sessions According to Science

By Camilla Moore November 25, 2022 Health and Fitness

Sitting down for long periods is not suitable for your health. On the contrary, it can be downright dangerous. Recent studies have shown that sitting for extended periods can lead to several health problems, including obesity, heart disease, and cancer.

The good news is that you can do a few simple things to break up your sitting sessions and improve your health.

How Sitting Affects Your Health

A 2012 study evaluating sitting time and all-cause mortality assessed 200,000 people ages 45 and older and followed them for an average of approximately three years.

Researchers found that almost 7% of all-cause mortality was attributed to sitting. However, they also reported that some participants met the physical activity guidelines of 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise. Sitting, therefore, is an independent risk factor of mortality.

In other words, even if you exercise, prolonged sitting is an independent risk factor.

So how do you balance work and life that requires you to sit for an extended period? Luckily, science has some answers.

Breaking Up Sitting Sessions

A 2012 randomized controlled trial assessed the risk of prolonged sitting when broken up by activity. It is important to note that we often associate sitting with poor posture; however, sitting is also a resting state for our body, and many negative consequences of sitting are associated with metabolic activity.

This study looked at overweight or obese adults 45-65 and found that 2-minute bouts of light or moderate-intensity walking every 20 minutes reduced overall blood glucose and insulin levels.

Other research supports walking desks or other active workstations to counteract the adverse effects of sitting.

Get Up Often

It is essential to break up sitting sessions with movement. Sitting is a resting state for the body, and “waking it up” regularly is vital. Balancing intermittent activity with productivity can be challenging, so find what works best. This particular study indicated that 2 minutes every 20 minutes was adequate; however, once per hour may be more reasonable for maintaining workflow.

If you work from home, throw laundry in or walk around the block. If you are in the office, take a quick tour up to the second or third floor to use the bathroom rather than the one on your floor.

The important part is that you are consistently getting activity throughout your day.

Get Moving!

Most people know that regular exercise is essential for maintaining good health. However, there are specific benefits that training can provide.

For example, exercise can help to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, obesity, type II diabetes, and various types of cancer. Additionally, exercise has been shown to improve mental health by reducing stress levels and improving mood.

And for those already dealing with chronic health conditions, exercise can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Low-impact exercises such as golf, pickleball, and yoga are great additions to life. Maintaining a healthy diet while minimizing inflammation is a fantastic combination for a healthy lifestyle.

There are many reasons to ensure that regular exercise is a part of your healthy lifestyle.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Do you spend most of your day sitting? How do you balance sitting and activity throughout the day?

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Peggy Bentley

Oh, and I have gained 30 lbs.!!!


Hi Peggy, ugh, so have I. I spent hours during the pandemic diamond painting and created beautiful pieces but at a cost. I’m now making every effort to move ANYWHERE and doing ANYTHING!

Peggy Bentley

I sit almost 8 hours a day in a call center ..I have got to change that!!!


My orthopaedic surgeon told me that sedentary workers have a much, much higher rate of developing arthritis/rheumatism than workers who do their job on their feet (shop assistants/construction).


So much to do in this old house I’m on the move all day.


I tell myself that I will sit a bit, and then git a bit! Helps keep moving about in my consciousness!

The Author

Dr. Camilla Moore is a Lifestyle Medicine Chiropractor and a freelance medical and health writer. She is a self-published author and you can read her other articles at her blog, The Wellness Cabinet where she writes about exercise, fitness, nutrition, and mindfulness.

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