The New Sitting Study That Will Make You Stand Up

Research reveals that hitting the gym after work is not enough to fight sitting disease

July 8, 2014

We know by now that sitting all day is not the best way to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and desk dwellers are often urged to take any opportunity to get moving: Walk to your coworker’s desk instead of shooting off an email, skip the elevator and opt for the stairs, use the bathroom furthest from your desk ... For many 9-to-5ers, though, it was comforting to know that you could ultimately “undo” some sitting damage by committing to exercise outside of work. But buzzkill alert: New research published today in Mayo Clinic Proceedings may have you reinstating your walking meetings.

Cardiologists at UT Southwestern Medical Center found that sedentary behaviors -- sitting, driving, watching television, reading, etc. -- may have a negative effect on cardiovascular health, whether or not you attempt to “make up” for this inactivity by exercising at a later time. The study looked at the average daily physical activity of 2,223 healthy men and women between the ages of 12 and 49, and found that the negative effects of six hours of sedentary time on fitness levels was similar in magnitude to the benefit of one hour of exercise.

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The researchers stressed that while exercise still plays an important role in staying fit and healthy, avoiding sedentary behavior throughout the day is just as important as hitting the gym after hours. “If you are stuck at your desk for a while, shift positions frequently, get up and stretch in the middle of a thought, pace while on a phone call, or even fidget,” suggested Dr. Jacqueline Kulinski, one of the paper’s authors.

Still not convinced you should invest in that standing desk? Here are 3 more compelling reasons to get off your booty:

You'll have better ideas. Research published by the American Psychological Association found that walking is better for creative thinking than a conference room brainstorming sesh.

You'll keep the doctor away. People who decrease their sitting time and increase physical activity have a lower risk of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and others, found researchers from Kansas State University.

You'll live longer. Scientists at Cornell University found that women with the highest amounts of sedentary time died earlier (gulp!) than their active peers.

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