Vitality

Sitting All Day And Night May Not Lead To An Early Death When Physical Activity Is Part Of Your Routine

Exercise
Sitting all day and night may not kill you if you exercise regularly. Hernán Piñera CC BY-SA 2.0

First, it was said that sitting was as bad as smoking. Then, we found out that sitting is affecting our muscle movement and brain activity, making our butts bigger, and leaving our DNA open to aging. To combat this, you probably asked your employer to sign off on one of those fancy standing desks everyone was talking about. Then, you found out that standing desks weren’t as good as everyone said. Thankfully, a new study has found that our general beliefs about sitting for prolonged periods might not be as hazardous as previously claimed.

Contrary to studies that showed even gym time can’t reverse the effects of long sitting periods, researchers from the University of Exton and the University College London found that if you are otherwise physically active, sitting for a long time doesn’t necessarily mean you are on your way to an early death.

The researchers had 5,000 civil servants in London record when they sat at work and at home over the course of 16 years. 3,720 men and 1,412 women were involved in the study, and age, race, gender, socioeconomic status, general health, smoking, alcohol consumption, and diet were taken into account, as well as the amount of walking and exercise.

What they found, however, was that many of the civil servants spent twice as much time walking a day than other London residents, even though the participants used London public transportation.

“Our findings suggest that reducing sitting time might not be quite as important for mortality risk as previously publicized and that encouraging people to be more active should still be a public health priority,” said lead author Richard Pulsford, a researcher in the sport and health sciences department at the University of Exeter.

Though the researchers agree that the study could use more research in determining if sitting can lead to diabetes, or if a person’s physical posture or lack of motion is the real reason that sitting is determined to be harmful, they concluded their study by stating, “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.”

It might seem as if every day a new study comes out saying sitting is bad or sitting is not so bad, but either way the message remains the same: Make sure you get at least some exercise every single day.

Source: Pulsford R, et al. Associations of sitting behaviours with all-cause mortality over a 16-year follow-up: the Whitehall II study. International Journal of Epidemiology. 2015.  

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