Research has warned time and time again that “sitting disease” is real. But if you’re sitting all day at work, you should get up every 30 minutes and move to cut your risk of death, a new study is advising.
American scientists out of Columbia University say that adults who sit for one or two hours at a time without moving have a higher risk of early death than their peers who are sitting for just as long but are still getting up for even short bouts of movement.
“We tend to think of sedentary behaviour as just the sheer volume of how much we sit around each day. But previous studies have suggested that sedentary patterns – whether an individual accrues sedentary time through several short stretches or fewer longer stretches of time – may have an impact on health,” Dr. Keith Diaz, the study’s lead author, said in a statement.
“So if you have a job or lifestyle where you have to sit for prolonged periods of time, we suggest taking a movement break every half hour. This one behaviour change could reduce your risk of death, although we don’t yet know precisely how much activity is optimal,” Diaz said.
READ MORE: 4 ways to combat sitting disease
The study looked at how often nearly 8,000 people were moving, relying on fitness trackers worn on participants’ hips. Turns out, 77 per cent of the group fell into the sedentary category, sitting down for more than 12 hours per day.
In follow-ups with the participants, the researchers learned that 340 people had died in subsequent years. Turns out, those who moved the least – sitting more than 13 hours per day – and who sat around for an hour to 1.5 hours at a time had a nearly two-fold increase in death.
Countless studies have pointed to “sitting disease” affecting your health and waistline. In another 2016 study, Australian and Danish doctors said that getting out of your chair for 71 minutes a day during your workday could make a difference long term.
READ MORE: Trying to lose weight? Cut out this much sitting at work
Canadian research released last year warned that too much sedentary time is putting you at risk of disease and death — even if you exercise regularly.
“What we found was that sitting time is linked to higher risk of death, higher risk of heart disease, higher risk of cancer, cancer-related deaths, heart disease-related deaths and diabetes,” the study’s lead author, Dr. David Alter, told Global News.
Alter suggests that an average person spends more than half of his or her day being sedentary — we watch television, we work at a computer, for example. Those who don’t exercise at all have a more pronounced health risk than their counterparts who work out, he said.
READ MORE: Why too much sitting time increases risk of disease even if you exercise
He says the mechanisms behind sitting and its hazards aren’t fully understood yet. Our metabolisms could slow down, we burn less energy, fat and fuel leading to excess weight. That puts us at risk of diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
So how do you combat sitting disease? Here are four tactics:
- Set a reminder: give yourself little reminders on your phone or computer that’ll push you to get out of your seat or off the couch every 30 minutes to grab a glass of water, take a walk outside or do a lap around the office.
- Monitor how often you’re sitting, then cut back: Get a pulse on how often you’re sitting then set goals to shave sedentary time off even if it’s parking at the back of the lot.
- Stand: This is a simple measure that’s often overlooked. If you’re in a meeting, stand. If you’re watching TV, folding laundry or handling other chores around the house, stand up.
- Add activity into your routine: Walk or bike to work. Instead of taking the elevator to your office, use the stairs. And if you have to commute, get off the bus a stop early or park farther away than you need to. If you can persuade your colleagues, give walking meetings a try.
The study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Read the full findings.