Is sitting at a desk killing you? Part 2

We have touched on this before.  Sitting at a desk is doing you  no good.  This all seems so obvious to us but it is now, pleasingly, real science.  A new study was published in Oct last year in the Annals of Internal Medicine (2015; 162(2): 123–132) called:

Sedentary time & its association with risk for disease incidence, mortality, & hospitalization in adults

And was written by Biswas A, Oh PI, Faulkner GE et al.Sitting at work

The study showed that time spent sitting at a desk was associated with a greater risk for all-cause mortality including cardiovascular disease incidence or mortality, cancer incidence or mortality and type II diabetes in adults.  In other words, prolonged amounts of time doing nothing, independent of any physical activity you do, is positively associated with these devastating health consequences.  These poor health consequences generally decreased in magnitude among those of us who participated in higher physical activity.  This was compared to those who did no exercise.

So, if you drive to work, sit at a desk all day, drive home and then sit in front of your telly all night you should not be too surprised when the diagnosis is given to you.

The results reaffirm the need for greater public awareness about the hazards associated with sedentary behaviour.

So, how much physical activity should you try and achieve?

Adults are advised to accumulate at least 150 minutes of weekly physical activity in bouts of 10 minutes or more.  However, the intensity of this physical activity is also important.  It is a key characteristic in the preventive role in cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, obesity and some cancer types.  Still, despite the health-enhancing benefits of physical activity, this alone may not be enough to reduce the risk of disease and illness caused by sitting at a desk.  Population-based studies found that for the majority of us more than a half of the day involves these sedentary activities such as watching television or using the computer.  Studies suggest that longer periods of sitting have deleterious health effects independent of adults meeting physical activity guidelines.  So, it’s the sitting down doing nothing that really matters – not the lack of exercise.

There were some arresting points brought out in the study:

  • Greater sedentary time was found to be positively associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease mortality, cancer mortality, cardiovascular disease incidence, cancer incidence and type II diabetes incidence.
  • The largest statistical effect was associated with the risk for type II diabetes.
  • Among studies assessing cancer mortality and incidence, significant associations were found for breast, colon, colorectal, endometrial, and epithelial ovarian cancer.
  • Sedentary time was associated with a 30% lower relative risk for all-cause mortality among those with high levels of physical activity as compared with low levels of physical activity.

The most important take home message is = GET MOVING!!

Get a standing desk

Run to work

Avoid slumping in front of the telly

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