Recently, a CNN article was published titled, “Yes, sitting too long can kill you, even if you exercise.” 1 If you read this and jumped to your feet with such force that you knocked your chair over in doing so, you achieved the objective of the author! The intentions were no doubt pure, but we must be critical when reading these types of things. We are constantly inundated with so many fad diets and health initiatives, it can be difficult to discern truthful information from the trend of the week.
Let’s take a quick look deeper into what the message actually is. The article goes on to emphasize the positive correlation between time spent sitting and the risk of early mortality. Based on a study of nearly 8,000 adults, people who sat for less than 30 minutes at a time had the lowest risk of early death. So this means invest in a standing desk, right? Not quite.
Extended periods of time in any motionless position or sedentary state is the problem, but as we age we tend to sit more frequently. If we’re sitting at a desk, we’re likely working, and if we’re focusing or performing a tedious task, then we’re likely motionless while doing so. If we’re doing this at a standing desk, we may also be locking our knees, shifting our weight from one hip to the other, or even leaning on the desk surface, contorting our body’s frame and muscles, which may further complicate the issue. “Sit less, move more,” is what the American Heart Association would have us do.2
While more research is required to make conclusive recommendations about how much sitting is too much sitting, more consistent activity is the goal. If you’re at a desk all day, or posing as a motionless window mannequin, consider taking a motion break every half hour.