Good news: sitting is NOT the new smoking after all!

Whew! This is a relief, since I have to do so much sitting at my desk all day, and often into the night. I was becoming neurotic with all the research showing that sitting is the new smoking and can shorten your life unless you keep standing up every few minutes. It was affecting my work flow as I felt obliged – when I remembered, which wasn’t always regularly – to keep leaping up and getting away from my desk even in mid thought. Now, new British research puts the issue into a different perspective. It also puts to bed the idea that sitting too much on its own is a health hazard that offsets all the benefits you get when you exercise regularly, as I do. I guess all I need to do now is wait for the next study that comes along that negates this one. Science is never still. – Marika Sboros

From Agence France Presse

Photo credit: reynermedia / Foter / CC BY

London – Sitting down is no worse for you than standing up as long as you take regular exercise, a British study says, casting doubt on the health benefits of sit-stand work stations.

The study also challenged advice from the UK National Health Service (NHS) based on other studies stating that “remaining seated for too long is bad for your health, regardless of how much exercise you do”.

Exeter University and University College London researchers followed more than 5,000 people over a 16-year period.

Their findings have been published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

“Any stationary posture where energy expenditure is low may be detrimental to health, be it sitting or standing,” said Melvyn Hillsdon from Exeter’s sport and health sciences department.

Also read: Workers stand up for their health as evidence mounts over sitting down

“The results cast doubt on the benefits of sit-stand work stations, which employers are increasingly providing to promote healthy working environments.”

The research found there was no influence on mortality risk for participants from sitting at work, during leisure time or watching television.

The NHS said on its website in advice published last year that there was “increasing evidence” linking excessive sitting with being obese, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and premature death.

Read also: Top New Year Resolution for health: less sitting – here’s why and how

It recommends an active break from sitting every 30 minutes, citing expert Professor Stuart Biddle saying: “Sitting needs breaking up.”

“Do some tasks standing, like having coffee and chats, or even writing a letter – Ernest Hemingway wrote his novels standing,” he added.

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