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Build Your Career Office Life

You Can Sit Down Now. Sitting at Work May Not Be So Bad After All

You Can Sit Down Now. Sitting at Work May Not Be So Bad After All
Credit: violetblue/Shutterstock

You might want to sit down to read this. Sitting at your desk all day isn't as bad for your health as has been reported, new research finds.

Sitting for long periods at work, or at home, is not associated with an increased risk of dying, according to a study recently published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

The study challenges past research that suggested that regardless of how much you exercise, sitting for prolonged periods is bad for your health. The current research argues that people who routinely walk a lot or do other exercise don't have a higher risk of death if they spend the majority of their workday sitting at a desk.

Melvyn Hillsdon, one of the study's authors and an associate professor at the University of Exeter in the U.K., said their study indicates that the problem lies in the absence of movement rather than the time spent sitting. [Sitting or Standing? Both Have Consequences for Workers ]

"Any stationary posture where energy expenditure is low may be detrimental to health, be it sitting or standing," Hillsdon said in a statement. "The results cast doubt on the benefits of sit-stand work stations, which employers are increasingly providing to promote healthy working environments."

The study followed more than 5,000 participants for 16 years, making it one of the longest follow-up studies in this area of research. For the research, participants, 3,720 men and 1,412 women, provided information on the total amount of time they spent sitting each day and on several specific types of sitting behavior: at work, during leisure time and while watching television. In addition, the participants also provided details on how much time they walked or spent engaged in moderate to vigorous activity each day.

Age, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, general health, smoking, alcohol consumption and diet were all taken into account. The results found that over the 16-year period the participants were examined, none of the sitting measures studied influenced mortality risk.

"Our findings suggest that reducing sitting time might not be quite as important for mortality risk as previously publicized and that encouraging people to be more active should still be a public health priority," said Richard Pulsford, the study's lead author and a lecturer in physical activity in health at the University of Exeter.

Moving forward, the author wants to spend time studying whether long periods of sitting are associated with an increased incidence of diseases such as heart disease and Type II diabetes.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.