Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Warning: Sitting kills!

All these years as a non-smoker and I never thought I'd unwittingly spend every day of my life doing something almost as dangerous: sitting.

Unless you've been wandering the deserts of Arabia, or on a scientific expedition in Antarctica, in which case this news probably doesn't apply to you anyway, you can't have failed to have heard the latest research findings that warn that those of us with desk jobs have an increased risk of dying. Simply because we sit.

And it doesn't matter how seemingly healthy you are: what you eat, how much you weigh and how much exercise you do matters not a jot. If you sit for extended periods of time you are essentially killing yourself.

And apparently it's worse if you're a woman. (Well it would be, wouldn't it? As if we don't have enough to deal with.) Where men who sit for more than 6 hours a day have an 18% increased risk of dying of sedentary-related diseases, for women that number jumps to 37%! Hardly seems fair.

Perhaps it all relates to evolution. Men would expend a lot of energy hunting, then come home, eat a massive meal, fall asleep and then be essentially useless for a few days until another bison was required. Meanwhile, women were faffing about the cave, running around after small children, gathering leaves and berries, shooing away scavengers and generally being just a little bit busy, constantly. But that is mere speculation. An evolutionary biologist I am not. Although that would be a pretty cool profession.

Admittedly this news isn't really new. Studies on this topic have been conducted over the last few years and they all seem to corroborate the findings. But a recent study by the University of Queensland has some good news: you don't really need to do much to counteract this effect. Spending a minimum of 1 minute standing or walking for every 15 minutes of sitting is enough to keep you healthy.

Luckily for me, I am so full of baby at the moment that I can't comfortably sit still for any period of time anyway. But just in case I might start drinking water from an egg cup so that I'm forced to wander to the water cooler every 15 minutes.

  1. MedConnect: Small Breaks From Sitting 'Good For Heart'
  2. Action Tips for Healthy Employees
  3. Daily Mail: Could Sitting Down Be the Death Of You? 
  4. BuzzFeed: Sitting Down WILL Kill You (Infographic)