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The Problem in the United States
For most adults age 25 or older, the primary portion of their day is spent working. As shown in this graph (shown on right), the average adult works around 8.7 hours a day. Additionally, the number of sedentary jobs has increased 83% since 1950. Paired with the fact that around 75% of current jobs are sedentary or only lightly active, this is a major problem. That means that most of America's working citizens have increased risk of the health complications mentioned above.
The problem of excessive sitting does not end after work. More often than not, the relaxing regime includes sitting in front of the tube. Based on a statistic published by the U.S. Department of Labor, those 15 and older watch TV on an average of 2.8 hours per day. This increases the average sedentary hours per day to over 12 hours. This is only a low estimate as there are plenty of other times during the day that the average person is seated, such as when eating meals, driving, or reading a book.
Excessive sitting is not only affecting us, but also our kids. A report from Active Living Research shows that children and adolescents spend an average of 6 to 8 hours in sedentary behaviors every day. However, around 4 hours of this, on average, is associated with just watching TV! Based on this graph, there is a massive jump from the sitting time of 2-11 year-olds to those 12-15 years-old. The numbers are roughly 42% of the daytime spend sedentary for those age 2 to 11 compared to the approximately 55% for youth aged 12 to 15.
References: (in order)
- "Time use on an average work day for employed persons ages 25 to 54 with children." Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2013. Web. 12 Dec. 2014.
- “The Price of Inactivity.” The American Heart Association. n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2014.
- "American Time Use Survey — 2013 Results." Bureau of Labor Statistics. 18 June. 2014. Web. 12 Dec. 2014.
- "Sedentary Behaviors and Youth." Active Living Research. May. 2014. Web. 12 Dec. 2014.
- "Television & Health." The Sourcebook for Teaching Science. n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2014.
- Matthews, Charles. et all. “Amount of Time Spent in Sedentary Behaviors in the United States, 2003–2004.” American Journal of Epidemiology. 167.7 (2008) Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: 875–881. Print.
Frequently Asked Questions
No. Exercising has been found not to reduce the problems associated with sitting for excessive periods of time. For more information, view this study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
2. Can I calculate how many calories I will burn?
Yes! You can find how many calories you burn while standing and sitting by going to this website and just inputting your weight and work hours.
3. Are there alternatives to sitting at work?
There are several thing you can do. The first thing is to get a new chair that promotes movement. These keep you sitting, but allow you to fidget and, thus, burn calories.
The other alternative is to buy a new desk. Standing desks are becoming more common, especially ones that can be automatically raised and lowered. The other choice of desk is a treadmill desk. These are just a treadmill that goes 1 or 2 mph with a desk portion for your computer.