Wearing an activity tracker—and meeting your daily goals–is one of the best ways to protect yourself against what is fast becoming the # 1 killer in the western world: Death by sitting.

The  “why-walk-when-you-can- drive;” and “why-get-up-when-you-can-email-or-text” way of life is killing us.

  • According to the World Health Organization, inactivity is the “main cause” of about 21-25% of breast and colon cancers and 27% of all cases of diabetes.
  • Recent studies reveal that sitting for more than four uninterrupted hours daily can put you at the same high risk for cardiovascular disease as the pack (or two) a day smoker. What’s even more shocking is that this is true even if you workout for 30 minutes everyday!

In other words, all the good stuff that you’re doing for yourself, like eating well, getting enough sleep and even going to the gym once a day could be negated if you spend the rest of your day glued to a chair.

Although we don’t yet know the root cause of “death by sitting,” there are telltale metabolic changes that occur when you’re inactive that are detrimental to your health. Notably, your metabolism switches to low gear and calorie burning stalls; fat from food that should be burned for fuel lingers in your bloodstream, which can damage the lining of the arteries that deliver blood to your heart and brain, setting the stage for a heart attack or stroke.

When your metabolism slows down, your normal hormone production is disrupted, which boosts your risk for diabetes and developing certain cancers, as mentioned above. Out-of-whack hormones can also interfere with your ability to sleep (inadequate sleep also boosts your risk of developing a myriad of diseases) as well as handle stress or even think clearly.

Fortunately, it’s not that difficult to transform a sedentary lifestyle into an active one: Wearing an activity tracker and checking your data periodically can be a big help. The mere thought of having to check up on yourself will inspire you to take a ten minute walk, get up and stretch, or do a Burst all of which can help keep your metabolism from stalling. Striving to achieve specific goals–like walking 10,000 steps daily or increasing your daily calorie burn by 10%–will keep you on your toes, and prevent you from mindlessly falling into a pattern of  deadly inactivity.

Check out “Finding Your Right ‘Fit’,” for some ideas on how to get more activity into your day.