As technology advances, more workers are becoming electronically chained to their desks for several hours per day, and that sedentary work life is taking its toll, according to new research confirming earlier studies indicating lengthy sitting at work can lead to an early grave.
As reported by The Washington Times, a new study by researchers from Columbia University builds on previous research and adds to an ever-growing body of evidence that our modern workplace and lifestyle is killing us sooner, even if we take time during the week to exercise regularly.
Leader of the largest study of its kind thus far, which was conducted at Columbia’s Exercise Testing Laboratory, Dr. Keith Diaz said what surprised him most about his team’s findings wasn’t the accumulated hours of sitting throughout the day, but that people sitting uninterrupted for far shorter periods — even 60 to 90 minutes — lead to shorter lifespans on average.
“This finding I think will help shift our understanding about the risks of sitting by showing that to reduce the harmful consequences of sitting one needs to both decrease the overall time they spend sitting and take frequent movement breaks when they do sit,” he told the Times.
The paper reported further:
The study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and followed a national representative population of 8,000 individuals older than 45 for an average of four years.
The researchers employed the use of hip-mounted accelerometers to monitor how long people sat and their movement. Previous studies evaluating sedentary time and health had participants self-report their sitting and movement periods.
During the period examined, researchers said there were 340 recorded deaths. After the team adjusted for several variables like race, sex, and age, they found that the overall number of hours of sitting daily combined with long periods of uninterrupted sitting led to earlier death.
Adding exercise to daily routines did not seem to help much, if at all. Researchers said, “all-cause mortality” was still higher when people sat for more than an hour to an hour-and-a-half at one time.
“We think this gives a clear message that besides exercising, you also should be mindful of moving (and not being sedentary) throughout the day,” Diaz told the Times in an email.
Participants in the study recorded an average of 12.3 hours of sitting and sedentary time during a 16-hour waking day. In order to stave off the deadly effects of sitting for so long, the research team recommended movement breaks every 30 minutes throughout the day. They also recommended that businesses seeking to intervene and implement more breaks throughout the day should use the 30-minute limit as their guide.
“Both the total volume of sedentary time and its accrual in prolonged, uninterrupted bouts are associated with all-cause mortality, suggestive that physical activity guidelines should target reducing and interrupting sedentary time to reduce risk for death,” the research team concluded in their published study.
There are some ways for you to actually get a bit of exercise in while you’re at work and you’re taking one of those 30-minute breaks. Consider:
— If you work in an office building, walk up and down a few flights of steps;
— Do a few sets of 10 pushups each;
— Perform sets of 20 jumping jacks;
— If you work someplace that has a company gym, definitely use it on your longer breaks, maybe even over lunch. In fact, if you don’t have a company gym you should suggest the company invest in one.
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