Relax, Folks: Sitting at Your Desk Probably Isn’t Going to Kill You

http://www.peepmystyles.com/2011/06/my-desk.htmlPhoto: Peep My Style

If you work in an office, chances are you have at least one smug colleague who uses a standing desk (or maybe you’re the smug one), but it might be time to sit back down: New research has found that sitting is not quite as bad as we all thought.

The seemingly harmless activity of sitting has been getting a really, really bad rap in recent months, with one study linking it with increased cancer risk and another equating it with early death. Basically health experts and the media have been bombarding us with slightly alarmist statements like “sitting is the new smoking.”

Well, relax, because a study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that, no, sitting at your desk isn’t going to kill you. The research shows that the sitting/standing debate is futile—we should be focusing on moving more.

To come up with the (relieving) stats, researchers considered data from 5,100 London-based British government employees over a 16-year period. Each participant recorded how much time they spent sitting at work and in their downtime, as well as how often they walked or exercised. During the period, 450 people has passed away from reasons unrelated to the study, and researchers found that sitting wasn’t linked with a higher risk of death.

“Sitting time was not associated with all-cause mortality risk. The results of this study suggest that policy makers and clinicians should be cautious about placing emphasis on sitting behavior as a risk factor for mortality that is distinct from the effect of physical activity,” authors of the study wrote.

The report also pointed out that the participants walked twice as much as the average citizen in the United Kingdom, which could be why sitting had less of an impact on their health.

So the moral of the story here is that even if you are on your butt from 9 to 5, you’re probably going to be fine—as long as you keep up an active lifestyle outside of the office.

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