We’ve known for ages that stress kills, but sitting as a killer has only reared its ugly head in the last few years.
The phrase, “sitting is the new smoking,” has been bandied about ever since Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative, coined it, saying in a Los Angeles Times 2014 interview that “Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.”
Many studies have been published on the subject in the last few years, most sounding alarm bells about dangers of the sedentary lifestyle, but somewhat divided on the specs of the “sedentary lifestyle” and what to do about it.
Standing instead of sitting was recommended at one point then largely disputed, as long-term standing also has health repercussions. More exercise for “habitual sitters” was recommended but a study a couple of years ago found that even exercise for those who spend a lot of time sitting, does not keep the higher risk of mortality at bay.
Now, a new study led Dr. Diaz from Columbia Medical Center, published in Annals of Internal Medicine is adding another finding to the growing body of evidence against sitting, but with a critical twist. It suggests that it is our sitting pattern that has a pivotal role in delaying the Grim Reaper. The study found that people who sat more but interrupted the sitting sessions by getting up every 30 minutes or less had a significantly lower risk of death than people who sat more but got up only every 60-90 minutes.
The lesson here? Get up every 30 minutes from your desk and walk about to keep your cardiovascular system, your immune system and your nervous system healthy. (The added bonus? A mental pause to clear the head and keep that burn-out at bay!)
Instead of calling/texting colleagues, walk to have that face-to-face. Walk down the hall, take the stairs, and walk down the hall below. Take a quick walk around the block. If the office has a more laid-back culture, get up and do some jumping jacks or yoga positions.
For how long should you walk about? Hmm, that’s still not specified. “So if you have a job or lifestyle where you have to sit for prolonged periods of time,” said Dr. Diaz, “we suggest taking a movement break every half hour. This one behavior change could reduce your risk of death, although we don’t yet know precisely how much activity is optimal.”