Sitting: The Eighth Deadly Sin


The explanation of the cardinal or seven deadly sins became popular during the early days of Christianity to help instruct us mortals on how to avoid the deadly trap of sin. Nowadays, most people are familiar with Seven, the psychological thriller starring Brad Pitt. These sins were traditionally known as gluttony, sloth, wrath, greed, pride, lust, and envy.
However, the famous European painters and sculptors at the end of the Middle Ages began to popularize and immortalize the eight deadly sins within the Catholic Church. These were known as:

    1. A proud look
    2. A lying tongue
    3. Hands that shed innocent blood
    4. A heart that devises wicked plots
    5. Feet that are swift to run into mischief
    6. A deceitful witness that uttereth lies
    7. Him that soweth discord among brethren
    8. Him who siteth for longeth timeths

The eighth was not included in the newer interpretations of the Biblical texts, but the team here at Health Wire searched near and far to find the original text, and it does in fact include these ominous words.*

Sitting: The Modern Way of Life

As terrible as it may be, the 9-5 office setting is impossible for most of us to avoid if we want to feed our families. Unfortunately, this more often means no sun exposure during the day, little to no activity throughout the day, and sitting for hours on end. This is basically a recipe for disaster that most of us engage in on a daily basis. The fact that it is considered a normal aspect of daily life only adds to the issues.

The Problem with Sitting

According to a study in 2004, the average American sits for at least eight hours per day.1 In this study, over 6,000 Americans wore monitors that tracked their activity. However, they appeared to only wear the trackers for 14 hours a day, or over 50% of the time. It is likely that the average American sits a lot more than even eight hours per day.
Studies show that occupational sitting is associated with a higher incidence of diabetes and death.2 Those who sit for long periods are more likely to die from a heart attack.3 Another study reveals that, unsurprisingly, the more we sit, the heavier we are (in terms of body mass index).4 Other data show the more miles we drive (obviously sitting), the fatter we are.5
In fact, men who drive for over ten hours per week or are sedentary for over 23 hours per week have a significantly higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.6
Simply put, those that sit a lot are heavier, have more heart attacks, and die more often than those that stand.

Can You Exercise off Excessive Sitting?

A recent study from Australia looked at the sitting habits of almost a quarter million people.7 It found that, of those people who died, the more they sat, the higher their risk of death.
When comparing the sitting time of those in the study who sat for more than four hours, they found that:

    1. Those people who sat for 8-11 hours per day had a 15% relative increase in the risk of death.
    2. Those people who sat for more than eleven hours per day had a 40% relative increase in risk of death.

An interesting tidbit of this study was that this risk of death was persistent when they looked at physical activity levels among the study participants. Another study supports similar findings, as its assessment of over 120,000 people revealed that sitting for over six hours per day was independently associated with total mortality. This was found to be true regardless of an individual’s physical activity level.8
In other words, if you spend most of the day in a chair and then kick it into overdrive in the gym in the evening, it may not make up for the extended period of sitting. Perhaps activity levels throughout the day as a whole are more important than a lot of sitting intermixed with one period of compartmentalized exercise.

Stand up for Your Health

If you spend most of the day sitting, then stop. Increase your activity levels through these simple steps:

    1. Make a standing desk.
    2. Walk around as often as you can.
    3. Never, ever, ever take the elevator.


CONT’D: Follow the link HERE to continue reading the remainder of the article.

*The eighth sin was made up by me, and in no way is an official deadly sin, though it should be…

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1. Matthews CE, Chen KY, Freedson PS, et al. Amount of time spent in sedentary behaviors in the United States, 2003-2004. Am J Epidemiol. 2008;167(7):875-881. doi:10.1093/aje/kwm390.
2. Van Uffelen JGZ, Wong J, Chau JY, et al. Occupational sitting and health risks: a systematic review. Am J Prev Med. 2010;39(4):379-388. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2010.05.024.
3. Proper KI, Singh AS, van Mechelen W, Chinapaw MJM. Sedentary behaviors and health outcomes among adults: a systematic review of prospective studies. Am J Prev Med. 2011;40(2):174-182. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2010.10.015.
4. Santos R, Soares-Miranda L, Vale S, Moreira C, Marques AI, Mota J. Sitting time and body mass index, in a Portuguese sample of men: results from the Azorean Physical Activity and Health Study (APAHS). doi:10.3390/ijerph7041500.


© 2015 CDR Health and Nutrition, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Andrea

    Check this out: Katy Bowman, Biomechanist. Good stuff.

    Sitting, Standing, Exercise, Kegels are bad for you. 😉

    Katy at AHS 13 (Paleo Parenting):

    Katy’s Book (strongly recommended): Move Your DNA

  2. Pingback: When Daily Life Is Exercise, Everywhere Is the Gym - Caveman Doctor

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