How Many Hours a Day Should You Sit?

Different studies have different results- some say you should sit no more than eight hours a day, while others say you should limit it to three.

Sitting for too long has severe implications, but there are ways to offset the risks, such as getting up every half hour to stretch or getting a standing desk. 

Read on to learn more about the health risks of sitting down all day!

How Many Hours A Day Should You Sit

How many hours a day should you sit?

Interested to know how much you should be sitting each day? This article will go over…

  • How often you should get up from sitting
  • The health risks of sitting down for too long
  • How to know if you’re sitting for too long

Let’s get started!

How long is too long for sitting?

If you sit longer than eight hours each day you will have a higher mortality rate than those who spend less than three hours sitting, even if you are highly active.

Most urbanized people spend between 10 and 15 hours each day sitting.

Read More >> How Much Sitting Is Too Much?

Is lying down healthier than sitting?

Pressure on the spine when you lie down is under eight times less pressure than when you sit. 

Lying down promotes a lower heartbeat, stress relief, and muscle relaxation.

Lying down saves our bodies the most energy out of any other working position. 

Historically, people used to recline while eating, reading, and writing. Over time lying down started to be perceived as lazy.

There are lay-down workstations that you can buy so you can work while lying down.

What happens if you sit for 11 hours a day?

There isn’t a specific threshold of hours where your risk of death increases dramatically from sitting.

People who sit for over 13 hours a day have a 200% greater risk of premature death than those who sit for less than 11 hours a day.

There is a popular myth that sitting for 11 hours a day can increase your risk of dying in the next 3 years by 40-50%, but it has been debunked.

Read More >> Is Sitting All Day as Bad as Smoking?

How often should you get up from sitting?

You should get up from sitting every 30 minutes. Make sure to move your body during this time period. 

Do yoga, stretch, go on a brisk walk- any type of exercise. It doesn’t have to be high-impact, just enough to move your body.

This is a great office break yoga video!

Sitting for too long in a row can greatly increase your risk of diseases, so splitting that time up offsets those chances.

One idea is to have a standing desk where you can stand and work, and take occasional breaks sitting when you need to.

Does sitting make you fat?

Sitting doesn’t burn calories the way that standing or moving does, so your calorie output doesn’t increase much while you’re sitting.

Calorie input vs calorie output is what makes you gain weight. If you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight.

There are also genetic and metabolic factors; some people are more prone to weight gain than others.

If you have to sit all day and don’t get much exercise, try to eat a bit less.

You should still eat enough to feel full and be able to focus, but not as much as if you were exercising excessively every day.

Read More >> Sedentary Lifestyle: 7 Reasons Why Sitting Is Killing You

What to do after sitting all day?

If you have to sit all day for work, you should try to avoid sitting on the couch at night to watch TV.

One way to do this is to recline instead. Reclining reduces pressure on the spine and leg arteries.

Another idea is to try to get in an evening stroll. Walking will help you burn some extra calories that you didn’t burn during the day because you were sitting.

Try not to sit all day to begin with. Make sure you are taking movement breaks every 30 minutes to decrease your risk of sitting-related diseases and complications.

Another thing you can do is lie down instead of sitting while you work, or get a standing desk.

Why sitting down is bad for your back?

Sitting puts much more pressure on your spine than standing goes. When you move, your spinal discs contract and expand, absorbing blood and nutrients.

But when you sit your discs compress, which causes a loss in flexibility and an increased risk of herniated discs.

Sitting also weakens your back muscles because they are in a passive position. Your muscles will get weaker over time if you sit all day.

Standing activates these muscles and can offset the effects of sitting.

Your body is meant to move, not sit. When you are sitting your muscles contract for longer than they are meant to and that can pinch your nerves.

Read More >> Top 5 Best Desk Chair Cushions For More Comfort (2021 Review)

How Many Hours A Day Should You Sit

Does sitting reduce lifespan?

A study by Brazilian researchers who used data from 54 different countries linked sitting for over three hours a day as the cause of 3.8% of the yearly total deaths.

Even reducing your sitting time by 10% can have an immediate impact on your health.

If you reduce your sitting time more drastically, you would have a 300% less chance of dying due to sitting-related causes.

Sitting for over three hours a day can cut up to two years off of your life expectancy.

An Australian study found that people who watched about six hours of TV each day lived almost 5 years less than those who didn’t.

What happens to your body when you sit too much?

There are many things that happen to your body when you sit for too long.

For instance, it damages your heart. Even if your diet and lifestyle is the same as someone who stands all day, you will be twice as likely to get heart disease if you sit all day.

You are also more likely to get dementia. Sitting raises your risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease, all of which play a role in dementia. 

Sitting might change how your body reacts to insulin, which is the hormone that helps your body burn carbs and sugar for energy. This increases your risk of diabetes.

How much exercise should I do if I sit all day?

No matter how much you exercise, you can’t reverse the effects of sitting all day.

You should still try to get 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise or 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise every week.

It is good for your health and will do wonders for your mental and physical wellbeing.

However, it doesn’t erase the fact that you sit all day. The only way to offset the effects of sitting all day are to break up your sitting into 30 minute stretches and move your body in between, to lie down, or to get a standing desk. 

Is sitting cross legged bad?

There are a couple things to think about when sitting cross legged.

You may find yourself sitting in new positions if you’re pregnant, including sitting cross legged. This won’t hurt you or your baby. 

However, cramps, backaches, and muscle strains are all common during pregnancy. If you start to feel your legs cramp or see ankle swelling, try sitting with both feet down.

Crossing one foot on top of the other can cause a temporary increase in blood pressure. This is true when you cross your knees, but not your ankles.

There is a rumor that sitting with your legs crossed causes varicose veins, but there is no research to back up this claim.

Read More >> Are Kneeling Chairs Good for Posture?

What are the symptoms of sitting too long?

The main symptom of sitting too long is the clock! You will know how long you are sitting if you keep a timer.

It is a good idea to set an alarm every half hour so you remember to get up.

Your back may hurt if you’re sitting for a long time and have bad posture.

Your lower back, upper back, or both may hurt depending on how you’re sitting. If you want better posture, try these stools.

You might also become lethargic if you sit for too long.

Is it healthy to sit at a computer all day?

It is not healthy to sit at a computer all day.

Take breaks every half hour to stretch and move around a bit.

Even better, get a standing desk. 

Sitting at a computer all day can increase your risk of death and disease.

Final Thoughts on How Long You Should Sit Each Day

You should sit no more than eight hours each day tops. Ideally, you should sit for less than three.

The best thing you can do is get a standing desk. This will keep you on your feet and you can still work.

Another method is to lie down instead of sitting.

Lastly, take a break from sitting every thirty minutes to get up and move. You can stretch, walk, do yoga, or work out during this time. Just don’t sit during your breaks.

You are not doomed if you have an office job; you have options! Just be smart and use your resources to avoid sitting all day.

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Darryl Higgins

Darryl Higgins

Hi, I'm Darryl. I made this site to help share information & reviews about ergonomic desks, chairs & accessories to help others who want to work more comfortably. Learn more about my journey by reading my bio here. Enjoy!
Darryl Higgins

Darryl Higgins

Hi, I'm Darryl. I made this site to help share information & reviews about ergonomic desks, chairs & accessories to help others who want to work more comfortably. Learn more about my journey by reading my bio here. Enjoy!

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