Leading a predominantly sedentary lifestyle has lots of ill effects on your health, but can sitting down too much, separate from all other factors, actually cause you die earlier than your more ambulatory neighbors? According to a new study from the American Cancer Society it certainly can.
Researchers surveyed 123,216 healthy people (part of the American Cancer Society
Women were 94 percent and men were 48 percent
Excess Sitting Causes Important Metabolic Changes
In a press statement Dr Alpa Patel, study lead author, cited several factors explaining the positive association between spending more time sitting and higher death rates: "Prolonged time spent sitting, independent of physical activity, has been shown to have important metabolic consequences, and may influence things like triglycerides, high density lipoprotein, cholesterol, fasting plasma glucose, resting blood pressure, and leptin, which are biomarkers of obesity and cardiovascular and other chronic diseases."
Public Health Messaging Needs Revision
The study concludes that when it comes to public health messaging and guidelines, these should be refined to talk about reducing less time sitting, in addition to promoting more physical activity—an important distinction, the authors say, due to the high percentage of the population engaged in sedentary activity.
Here's the original study: American Journal of Epidemiology
Chair-Bound Workers Don't Despair: Here's a Simple Solution
To switch into activation mode here: Let me make one suggestion for those Planet Green readers whose work has heretofore left them chair-bound for hours and hours a day. Get a standing desk.
TreeHugger founder Graham Hill's standing desk setup, illustrating you don't need a purpose-built system to be more productive and healthier while doing hours of computer-focused work.
Having just replaced my old desk and chair with one&mdashlafter coming to the realization that I really was starting to feel like I have been on a year-long road trip, thanks to the long hours I and my fellow Planet Green writers put in bringing you interesting news and opinion—I can say that there is a short adjustment period, but a standing desk really does wonders.
Personally, I find it easier to think, easier to focus, and (most importantly in the context of this latest study) very easy to take a short break, take a loop around the room thinking and come back to work. The standing desk, for me at least, has been a great productivity improver overall.
Keep in mind however, you're still going to want to get a stool of some sort if you have to take phone meetings at the desk and have a comfortable chair for doing longer reading.
Don't worry when you start searching for purpose-built standing desks and you find that $1000 seems to be the starting price. Check the stats on desks designed for sitting that have adjustable legs at a lower price point; you should be able to find some that extend to about one meter, which is what you need if you're a shorter than average man (like me) or average height woman.
What started as a productivity boost turns out to be helpful in living a longer life as well. Love it.