Do you think sitting at work all day is leading to some serious health problems for your future? Well, you're in luck because a new study says sitting isn’t as bad as we think it is...
With the age of modern technology, everything we’ve ever needed is right in front of us – but it’s also made us more sedentary – and mostly stuck sitting at our desks for long periods of time during the day. However, it may not all be doom and gloom as the latest study by the International Journal of Epidemiology, suggests sitting at our desks may not be as unhealthy as we all first thought.
The researchers from the University of Exeter followed 5,000 participants for 16 years, measuring the time they spent sitting at work, in front of the TV, etc. and found no link between sitting for long periods of time and mortality. However – and here’s the major caveat – the group that took part in the experiment coupled their long sitting times with physical activity, averaging about 12 hours of physical exertion a week. Dr. Melvyn Hillsdon, one of the teachers at the university, even went so far as to say that recommending less sitting shouldn’t be advised unless policy makers also promote ‘increased physical activity.’
The study concluded that for health reasons, sitting isn’t that bad as long as you couple it with ‘moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity’. This is because the only relationship between poor health and sitting time is that it leads to ‘low total daily expenditure’, meaning that we end up not exerting much energy when sitting down all day.
So does this mean our long working days sat down can be off set by a few intense gym sessions per week, then?
Well, not necessarily actually as the participants in the study got most of their exercise through their commute, walking at least 40 minutes per day. Commenting on the study, John Buckley further supported the evidence that those who conduct an active lifestyle don’t need to feel too guilty about the more relaxed elements of their lifestyle, saying: ‘People who are highly active don’t have to worry about their sedentary behaviour.’
So, there you have it. If you do work a desk job for most of your working week, just make sure you’re getting in a little extra exercise every day by ditching the tube/bus/car on your way to work (f you can) and get a few extra metres in your sneakers. Or even shake off some of your excess energy at the end of the day by having a little dance sesh before you head to bed (our preferred exercise of choice!).