How long have you been sitting in front of your computer?
If it’s been longer than thirty minutes, it could be killing you without you even realizing it. According to a study published this week by The Annals of Internal Medicine, there could be a link between excessive sedentary periods and a heightened risk of death by any cause.
So What Exactly Is The Risk?
Initially designed to research why black Americans were at greater risk for stroke than whites, the study examined 7,985 adults over the age of 45. The data shows that for every 16 waking hours, more than 12 of those are spent sitting down. This could imply that as we age, we become less active and adopt a more sedentary lifestyle.
Here are some of the study’s key conclusions:
- People who sit for 13 hours a day increase their risk of death by 200% compared to people who sit for less than 11 hours a day.
- People who sit for less than 30 minutes at a time lower their probability of death by 55% compared to those who are sedentary for longer bouts.
- People who sit for 90 minute stretches increase their risk of death two-fold than those who sit for less time.
But the subject matter is complex, and the exact reasons behind the link between a sedentary lifestyle and potential risks are still not certain. Some hypothesize that lowered insulin sensitivity levels are the culprit, while others say that it’s related to a decrease in the amount of calories we expend while sedentary.
What If I’m An Avid Exerciser?
Sorry. Even if you exercise regularly, you’re not off the hook.
It doesn’t matter if you’re following all the exercise guidelines geared to promoting cardiovascular health sitting. Even if you’re putting in hours at the gym or consider yourself a fitness connoisseur, sitting for too long a time period could be a risk factor in early death.
Do you work at a desk for most of the day? Are you prone to indulging in long bouts of couch-locked relaxation? Or do you spend an inordinate amount of time behind the wheel of your car? You may want to consider adding frequent bouts of movement into your routine, in addition to the recommended 2.5 hours of cardio.
How Should I Break Up My Bouts of Sitting?
Chronic sitter? Make sure you move at least once every 30 minutes.
They’re still in the early phases of research, so steps to remedy the potential risks of an overly sedentary lifestyle aren’t yet conclusive. For example, you could invest in a standing desk but there’s little evidence that points to the benefits of standing over sitting.
But the study does create bring the risks of sitting for too long to the forefront of scientists’ attention, and hopefully they will create a regiment that holds as much weight as exercise guidelines and other health-building habits.
For now, try moving for five minutes every thirty minutes to get your blood flowing and promote cardiovascular health.
Data Source: cnn.com