February 11, 2019

You’re Sitting Too Much (No Big Surprise) — But Here’s How to Sneak in More Steps!

Study finds we sit too much at work + home

Walking in a corridor during lunch break

We all know that sitting too much is bad for our health, but just how many hours do we spend sitting each day? A recent study says the answer, for many of us, is more than we should.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

The study looked at data on 5,923 adults who took part in a national survey.

“The figures were pretty staggering,” says family medicine physician Donald Ford, MD, who did not take part in the study. “One in four people sit more than eight hours a day. Four in ten are physically inactive. And one in 10 are both — they sit for more than eight hours, and they’re physically inactive.”

A closer look at our sluggishness

Researchers found that the highest percentage of adults reported sitting for somewhere between six and eight hours a day, but also said they were inactive.

The smallest percentage of people (less than 3%) said they sat less than four hours per day and got sufficient exercise throughout the week. (How much is sufficient? That’s defined as at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate to intense exercise per week.)


Why inactivity is so dangerous (+ tips for being more active)

High amounts of sedentary behavior and low levels of physical activity have been linked to increased death risk, as well as several chronic diseases.

There are plenty of people who work sedentary jobs. You might sit in front of a computer screen or on a phone all day. But Dr. Ford says it’s important to find ways to be physically active otherwise.

Look for ways to get in small breaks during the work day. There are all sorts of opportunities — you just have to look for them.

For example, if you have a long hallway at work, make plans to walk up and down a little more, he suggests. Or park further from the building, and skip the elevator in favor of the stairs.

“You want to have a safe, protected walking space at work,” says Dr. Ford. “If they don’t have it, you should ask for it as an employee … If you have a five-minute break or a half-hour lunch, you can take some of that time and you can become active.”


Dr. Ford points out that the real danger is when people sit all day at work, and then go home and don’t exercise.

And sometimes just adding up steps isn’t enough, if you’re only getting a few at a time. Dr. Ford says you really have to put the effort in to make sure you’re getting your heart up if you want to see the positive effects on your health.

Complete results of the study can be found in JAMA.

Related Articles

Coworkers walking in an office environment
April 28, 2019
A Sedentary Lifestyle Is Bad for Your Heart – Even if You’re a Healthy Weight

Study finds heart-healthy habits can’t be measured by the scale alone

Applying aloe vera to irritated skin
February 27, 2024
Do Home Remedies for Ringworm Actually Work?

Some natural home remedies may offer relief, but they lack scientific evidence and won’t typically cure the condition

Variety of medication pills and tablets and liquids
February 22, 2024
Is It OK To Take Expired Medicine?

Some types of expired meds may not be harmful, but they probably aren’t worth the risk

Shoe storage shelf home, including purses and bike helmets
February 14, 2024
Wearing Shoes in the House: ‘OK’ or ‘No Way’?

Leaving footwear on invites germs, bacteria, toxins and other unwanted guests into your home

Male consults with pharmacist about herbal supplement
February 13, 2024
Herbal Supplements: Why To Check With a Healthcare Provider First

Besides questionable effectiveness, herbal supplements aren’t safe for everyone

Teacup of tea and plate of toast
February 2, 2024
What To Eat, Drink and Avoid When You Have the Stomach Flu

Start slowly with clear fluids, and then move to bland, easy-to-digest foods

Male with eyes closed sitting hunched over, pinching area between their eyes
January 29, 2024
Headache and Fatigue: 11 Possible Causes That Can Trigger Both

Many factors, like dehydration, a cold or even your medication, can result in these common symptoms

various New Year's resolutions written in date planner, with weights and chocolate in foreground
December 28, 2023
8 Common New Year’s Resolutions and How To Keep Them

Whether you’re trying to work out more, drink less or manage stress, we can help set you up for success

Trending Topics

White bowls full of pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate and various kinds of nuts
25 Magnesium-Rich Foods You Should Be Eating

A healthy diet can easily meet your body’s important demands for magnesium

Woman feeling for heart rate in neck on run outside, smartwatch and earbuds
Heart Rate Zones Explained

A super high heart rate means you’re burning more than fat

Spoonful of farro salad with tomato
What To Eat If You’ve Been Diagnosed With Prediabetes

Type 2 diabetes isn’t inevitable with these dietary changes