“Sitting is the New Smoking!” scream the headlines.
Even people who exercise are concerned about their chair time. Linda Melone, a health writer and fitness expert who runs the group Ageless After 50, told LifeZette that even though she was up at 4:15 every morning to make it to the gym, she felt obliged to do more.
“In addition, I try to get up every hour from my desk and walk around. I may do a few squats. I’m fidgety, so it helps,” she said.
If daybreak fitness buffs are supplementing their workouts with office laps, where does that leave the rest of us?
Perhaps the desk bound need not despair.
A new study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology has found that sitting for long periods won’t kill you.
“As sitting is a behavior that is common in a number of different areas of life, we wanted to investigate a number of separate sitting behaviors, including sitting at work, sitting during leisure time, and sitting while watching TV to see if these measures influenced a person’s risk of mortality,” Richard Pulsford, a leading researcher of the study from the Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Exeter, told LifeZette.
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The study from the University of Exeter and the University College of London followed participants — 3,720 men and 1,412 women — over a 16-year period.
“We found that none of our measures of sitting had any effect on mortality risk,” Pulsford said.
At the end of the analysis, those who were mostly sitters had little-to-no better health outcomes than those who were on their feet for more of the day.
The upshot: Policymakers and doctors should be cautious about emphasizing that sitting is harmful to our health. After all, the dire headlines are enough to give sitters high blood pressure, and that’s not good either.
“The findings suggest that sitting time is less important for mortality risk than accumulating physical activity; however, there is still a lot of research to be done to establish the underlying mechanisms linking patterns of inactivity and low-level lifestyle related physical activity to our health,” Pulsford said.
So you can relax a little. Don’t worry about your health as long as you throw in some movement into your daily routine.