My Office

Walk Away from an Earlier Death

Sitting Is Killing YouIf you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, perhaps it’s news to you that sitting is killing you. If not, maybe you jumped on the latest workplace wellness trend — a standing desk. But the latest research suggests that you might want to walk away from that standing desk. Literally.

A study of objective physical activity data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (NHANES) found that just standing up was not enough to cancel out the negative effects of sitting at a desk for most of the day. But just walking for a couple of minutes per hour was linked to a third less risk of premature death. This study was published by Beddhu et al in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Another new study — due to be published in the June issue of Diabetologia — found that the Diabetes Prevention Program can indeed reduce sedentary time and that reduction was associated with a reduction in the risk of developing diabetes.

Make no mistake about it, the science of reducing the health risks of sitting needs more work. Much of evidence base relies upon epidemiological associations. As a result, guidance is very general — “break up long periods of sitting as often as possible” is something you’ll hear a lot.

Watch this space. More specific, controlled studies will be coming and providing even better guidance.

In the meantime, a two-minute stroll every hour can’t hurt. It’s no substitute for more occasional and more vigorous exercise. But it seems to be a pretty good antidote for sitting.

Click here for more from the New York Times, here for more from NPR, here for the study by Beddhu et al, here for the study from Diabetologia, and here for a commentary from Annals of Internal Medicine.

My Office, photograph © David Robert Wright / flickr

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