If you’re sitting down right now as you read this, you might want to get up and move around, for the sake of your health. New research shows that being sedentary for long periods is linked to an increase in early death — even if you exercise regularly.
The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, tracked the activity of almost 8,000 adults ages 45 and older over an average of four years, during which 340 participants died. Researchers measured the “sedentary time” — both total daily sitting time and duration of uninterrupted bouts — of participants using hip-mounted accelerometers.
The findings show that the less time spent immobile, the better. Subjects who typically sat for shorter than 30-minute stretches had a 55 percent lower risk of death compared to those who often sat for longer than half-hour spans. Those who frequently kept still for 90-minute bouts had a nearly 200 percent higher risk of death compared to those who usually stayed put for less than a 90-minute bout. Moreover, "those who sat for more than 13 hours per day had a 2-fold greater risk of death compared to those who sat for less than about 11 hours per day," lead author Keith Diaz, an associate research scientist at the Columbia University Dept. of Medicine, told CNN.
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A standing desk isn’t necessarily the solution, as there isn’t sufficient research to show that standing is better for you then sitting. Certainly, a treadmill desk, which keeps you moving as you work, is a good solution. You could always quit your desk job and become a park ranger. Or, as Diaz suggested, take five-to-ten minute “movement breaks” every half-hour. Go get a coffee, chat with a coworker, go to the bathroom, do jumping jacks at your desk — whatever it takes. There’s no need to kill yourself over work.
And the advice to be more active applies to all areas of your life. If you’re bingeing Netflix every night, at least make sure you get off the couch for a few minutes after every half-hour episode. And keep up the exercise, too, for your heart health. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes, five days a week of moderate exercise that gets your heart rate up 50 to 75 times its normal rate, such as brisk walking, or 25 minutes, three times a week of vigorous exercise, like cardio, that elevates your heart rate up to 85 percent.