Being sedentary may not reduce the years in your life, but it can reduce the life in your years

Couch potatoes rejoice! Sitting for long periods is NOT bad for your health, study claims”, declared a very eye-catching headline in the Daily Mail this week. But sitting is bad for your health, we know it is, and the science agrees, even the authors of the study agree.

The new study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, looked at the association between different types of sitting time (work, TV, non-TV leisure-time, leisure-time and total sitting) and death from all causes in men and women working white-collar jobs on Whitehall in London. In this group of people, none of the different types of sitting time were associated with early death. But, they sat less and did more activity than people who have taken part in other studies where sitting for too long has been associated with poor health. So, they may not have sat down enough to limit their lifespan or they may have been protected, at least to some extent, by their physical activity.

This study didn’t look at whether the time the men and women spent sitting down was associated with the preventable diseases that research has previously shown to been linked with this behaviour, like type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and even some types of cancer. So, although being sedentary may not reduce the years in your life, it can reduce the life in your years.

The authors of the study quite rightly, warn us that “policy makers should be cautious about recommending reductions in sitting time as a stand-alone public health intervention.” We agree, physical activity is multidimensional – sedentary time is just one of those dimensions. To reduce your risk of developing numerous preventable diseases you also need to include more physical activity into your day.

What’s more, sedentary time is more than just sitting down. Dr Mevyn Hillsdon, one of the co-authors of the new study, is quoted as saying that “Any stationary posture where energy expenditure is low may be detrimental to health, be it sitting or standing.” We agree and that’s why every minute that your calorie burn isn’t high enough to reach the threshold for light activity is included in the sedentary time dimension in all of the KiActiv solutions.

Leading a more physically active lifestyle can help prevent you developing numerous diseases in the future. Just remember that a physical active lifestyle comes in many different forms, that’s because physical activity is multidimensional. The key is to understand what your lifestyle looks like now and find what activities “count” for you, something as simple as fidgeting may increase your calorie burn to mean you’re not sedentary, but you may need to do more, like pacing around when you’re on the phone. Just don’t stay still for too long and include activity that you enjoy every day.

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