There go all those headlines about ‘sitting = death’ and constant marketing of the stand-up desk. Do I want to stand up for hours on end? Umm, no. Turns out, it’s not the sitting that’s killing us.
It’s the inactivity. Yes, the inactivity relates to couch potato ways, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sit down. A study published Tuesday in the International Journal of Epidemiology found no association between sitting and an increased risk of dying.
Now you watching that reality show? The jury is out.
In reality, the headlines about the sitting will kill you forgot one small thing. The idea of moderation. While the study didn’t find sitting associated with death, that doesn’t mean you grab the remote and settle in for a month or two.
Think of the studies that show the benefits of coffee. Do you rush out to rig a Starbucks IV drip? The company may want you to, but no. It’s moderation.
The team of researchers used 16 years of health data from 5,132 people in the Whitehall II study. Each participant reported their time sitting during four situations: watching TV, chilling on the couch, non-TV watching chilling on the couch and at work. Time spent walking daily, and physical activity were also tracked.
The team controlled for various factors including diet and overall health. The result? Mortality risk wasn’t influenced by how long they sat or what they were doing while they were sitting. Damn, so much for blaming work on slowly killing me.
“Our study overturns current thinking on the health risks of sitting and indicates that the problem lies in the absence of movement rather than the time spent sitting itself,” study author Melvyn Hillsdon of the University of Exeter said in a statement. “Any stationary posture where energy expenditure is low may be detrimental to health, be it sitting or standing.”
Said simply? You can keep your chair. The thing over in the corner we use as a clothes rack? Yeah, the exercise equipment. We have to use it. Get outside and walk around.[divider]Study Problems[/divider]
There are some drawbacks to the study. It focused on Londoners who have a more physical commute due to walking. Researchers could not comment on any diseases being associated with too much sitting.
So, should you buy a standing desk? That depends. Plenty of smart models exist that work to remind you to move around. Each will auto adjust after a certain period to prevent you from being too sedentary.
That’s the key takeaway. Sitting or standing in one spot is too sedentary. We have to collectively make sure we are taking breaks and moving around.