What are the health risks of sitting down?
The sitting disease
Sitting is the new smoking – a headline you’ll have become familiar with over the last couple of years. Trouble is, while we can quit smoking (or preferably never start in the first place), it gets a little more complicated for the 4 in 5 UK employees earning their living at a desk job.
Thankfully, a new study released this week has shown that we can counteract the hidden risks of sitting with an hour a day of ‘brisk exercise’. This can be anything from ‘getting out for a walk at lunchtime, going for a run in the morning or cycling to work,’ according to Professor Ulf Ekelund of the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences and the University of Cambridge, who led the research.
The analysis, which looked at 13 existing papers on the symptoms of sitting too much, found that those who sat for eight hours a day but were the most physically active had a much lower risk of premature death, even compared to those who spent less time sitting but did less activity.
These results are brilliant for those of us who are committed to living a healthy life, but also have a career where spending your day at a desk is non-negotiable (particularly if you simply don’t buy into the standing desk trend for standing while working).
Here are 6 more pieces of important research you need to know:
6 facts about sitting vs standing
1 Using a standing desk for four hours every working day for a year burns the same amount of energy as running 11 marathons (a whopping 32,500 cals!) But there’s a catch: using an adjustable sit-to-stand work stations has been linked to a slight increase in sitting outside of working hours, according to a study from Loughborough University.
2 The average person spends 9.3 hours per day sitting down.
3 In addition to other hidden risks of sitting, it can have a serious effect on your bodily processes:
- Straight after you sit down, the enzymes that break down fat drop by 90 per cent.
- After two hours, your good cholesterol drops by 20 per cent.
- After 24 hours, insulin effectiveness drops 24% and the risk of diabetes rises.
4 It’s time to embrace the benefits of standing up: one medical report says you can add two years to your life by standing for just three hours a day.
5 Standing up for just five minutes once an hour can significantly reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases associated with sitting, according to a study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Want to avoid the dreaded sitting disease? Better volunteer for the tea run!
6 You burn more calories standing up: 3.3 per minute compared to 2.6 per minute sitting, says a University of Chester study.