The first Surgeon General’s report on physical activity and health was published in 1996; similar to the Surgeon General’s 1964 report on tobacco, it illuminated the broad body of evidence linking sedentary behavior to a wide range of negative health outcomes including:

  • Premature death
  • Heart disease (i.e. people who sit more than 4 hours/day have 125% increased heart disease risk)
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Hypertension
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis*
  • Metabolic disease
  • Certain Cancers (i.e. sitting more than 6/hours day is linked to a 30% increase in breast cancer)

Indeed, sitting more than 4 hours/day results in a 50% increased risk of death from any cause.

*New Zealand Medical Journal – hospitalizations due to blood clots are far more common in seated office workers than air travelers.

The World Health Organization now ranks physical inactivity as 4th largest killer globally, behind obesity. A 2010 American Cancer Society study followed 123,216 individuals (66,776 women and 53,440 men) from 1993-2006.

The alarming results:

  • Women who were inactive and sat over 6 hours a day were 94% more likely to die during the time period studied than those who were physically active and sat less than 3 hours a day.
  • Men who were inactive and sat over 6 hours daily were 48% more likely to die than their standing counterparts.

These findings were independent of physical activity levels – the negative effects of sitting were just as strong in people who exercised regularly. Likewise, kids are becoming more out of shape with each passing year, with only 42% of kids being as fit as they should be. And, because cardiovascular fitness is one of the best indicators of lifelong health, this is a concerning statistic.


According to the CDC, we are spending 75 cents of every health care dollar on chronic conditions linked to sedentary behavior, like obesity, diabetes and heart disease.