Dayana Aleksandrova
Dayana Aleksandrova

Dayana Aleksandrova is a Copywriter and content creator passionate about the wellness industry.

Published: Jul 3, 2020

In recent decades, cancer has become one of the most common diseases among people of all ages. Over 1,762,450 people were diagnosed with cancer in America last year alone. Difficult and painful to treat, the disease can take many forms, dramatically decreasing your lifespan. This is why more and more people are taking preventative measures to protect themselves against cancer. The bad news is that a plethora of factors that we face in our daily lives can cause this deadly illness. You may become sick due to a bad diet, excessive drinking, smoking, stress, or even something as common as a sedentary lifestyle if you sit for 40 hours a week at work.

So, can sitting give you cancer? While it’s not the act of sitting itself that can be detrimental, it’s the lifestyle that accompanies it that could make you sick. In this article, we’ll have a look at the relation between sitting and cancer, how dangerous a sedentary lifestyle can be, and what you can do to protect your health.

Sitting makes you 66% more likely to develop cancer

According to the Journal of National Cancer Institute, sitting increases your chances of getting cancer by a whopping 66%. To reach this conclusion, scientists conducted 43 studies. Participants were asked detailed questions about their daily routines, levels of activity, how many hours a day they sat, and how much they exercised.

The results showed that even people who exercised regularly were much more likely to develop cancer if they sat for extended periods. In fact, those who worked out less but also spent less time in a sedentary position in front of the TV or playing video games were far less likely to suffer from cancer.

Sedentary behavior triggers various types of cancer differently. If you spend the majority of your day sitting, you’re 24% more likely to develop colon cancer, 32% more likely to fall ill with endometrial cancer, and 21% more likely to get lung cancer. So, how does sitting relate to cancer?

If you sit too much, you develop a host of harmful habits. There is a strong correlation between watching too much TV and binging on soda and junk food. Consuming too many calories without moving leads to obesity due to the production and storage of glucose that isn’t broken down. The excess of glucose in the bloodstream can lead to diabetes and enhance the hormones responsible for tumor formation. This ultimately leads to a high risk of endometrial cancer and colon cancer.

How to protect yourself against cancer caused by sitting

The answer is simple — get more active. The American Cancer Society recommends that adults exercise for at least 150 minutes a week at a moderate pace (walking, yoga) or 75 minutes at a vigorous intensity (running, dance, aerobics). Kids and adolescents should work out for about an hour a day, so make sure that your kids don’t skip gym class or sign them up for an extracurricular sport.

While exercising every day may sound like an impossible task, you don’t have to do the gym grind for hours on end. The best strategy is to review your daily schedule and fit exercise in the free gaps or incorporate it around your workday. Cardio is the easiest form of exercise to make a habit of. You can run around the block, skip rope, do jumping jacks, high knees, or a combination of all of that without needing a gym.

Try bodyweight exercises

These are full-body exercises that get you sweating which helps you clear your body from toxins. If you’re pressed for time, you can replace your cardio with walking or biking to and from work. Then, all you need to do is fit in a 15-minute resistance training session either in the morning or after work that could be done anywhere.

The form of exercise that requires the least maintenance is bodyweight training. That includes pushups, squats, lunges, sit-ups, burpees, and planks. You don’t even need to set foot at the gym to get fit and boost your health. The added benefit of bodyweight training is that you develop a slender look without having your muscles appear bulky, which is a frequent side effect of weightlifting.

Schedule a midday workout

What’s more important than working out, however, is making sure that you don’t spend large intervals of time sitting. The Cancer Council of New South Wales, Australia, advises breaking up your day so that you spend your lunch break walking or at least standing. Make a point to get up from your desk every two hours and shake your legs out. If you get a standing desk at work, this will be a good option to help you become less stagnant.

Try to schedule a solid block of time for phone calls if you need to make any and walk around your office while you do them. If there is a gym in your office building, it’s worth scheduling your workout in the middle of the day to divide the two solid periods of sitting evenly and infuse your day with movement.

Spend the weekend outside

While it’s tempting to spend the weekend on the couch after a hectic week, you’re not doing your health any favors. The weekend is the best time to get active. Schedule playtime with your kids outdoors. Go out for breakfast or lunch instead of cooking at home, or pack up a sandwich and eat it in the park.

You could also go on a scenic hike. While walking is the simplest form of action, it is also one of the most effective because it engages your full body, and most importantly, keeps you out of the house and moving.

Cancer is a deadly disease. If you live your life on autopilot and forget to exercise and move your body, you may become another statistic. Take your health back into your own hands, schedule regular activity, sit in front of the TV less, and you’ll be on your way to a healthier and longer life.