Could a standing desk save your life and protect you from heart disease? Possibly, according to new research.
Most Canadians with office jobs spend between 8 and 15 hours a day sitting. That’s simply too much. It's enough sitting to put you at increased risk of heart disease, EVEN if you do go to the gym, according to new research.
A recent New York Times article reported that sitting for extended periods of time increases ones risk of injury to the muscles of the heart. Specifically, the study found that people who spend more than 9 hours each day sitting have elevated levels of troponins – the same protein produced during a heart attack. The elevated troponin levels in “chronic sitters” (relative to those who sit less) are lower than those involved in heart attacks; however, the findings are still worrisome to some cardiologists.
Shockingly, the study also found that total sitting time was more strongly associated with unhealthy troponin levels than exercise was with desirable troponin levels. This suggests that while healthy eating and regular exercise remain important components of healthy living, what we do 10 hours a day (eg. being sedentary) may be more important than what we do for the 30 or so minutes per day we spend at the gym (and, let's be honest, how many of us spend 30 minutes at the gym every day).
People who sit for more than 9 hours a day are at significantly increased risk of numerous diseases AND have shorter life expectancies, according to a University Health Network study in Toronto that examined the relationship between sitting and mortality.
Think you don’t fall into the "sedentary behaviour" category? Think again. If you work a typical 9-5 office job, sit during your lunch hour, and spend an hour commuting to and from work each day, you are sedentary for a whopping 10 hours per day! Do you also sit for dinner and then watch a few hours of TV when you get home? Now you're at 15 hours/day of sitting time. If you are sedentary for most of the day, you may be at risk of heart disease, even if you don't have symptoms. Watch this video to hear an incredible Medisys client story!
People who sit too much are at increased risk of developing insulin resistance and diabetes, fat depositions in the heat, heart failure, and other health problems. Importantly, most of these “sitting-related health risks” remain relatively high, EVEN when we exercise a few times a week. The bottom line: regular exercise is important, but being less sedentary all the time is better.
The obvious remedy to siting too much is to stand and walk more often. Here are some tips:
- Invest in a standing desk (or a walking desk)
- Park your car farther away from wherever you’re going, all the time
- Avoid escalators and elevators, take the stairs, always
- Take a longer route to the restroom or mail room at your office
- While sitting in front of a computer, set a timer to remind you to stand up and move every 30 minutes
- Don’t sit while taking on the phone, stand or bet yet, walk and talk
- Engage in walking meetings
- Don’t send emails to nearby recipients, walk over to your colleague and talk to them
- When taking the subway, train, or bus, don’t look for a seat – stand
- When watching TV use commercial breaks as your cue to get up and move around
- Listen to news podcasts while walking around instead of sitting on the couch watching the news
Original New York Times article: