Illustration: Ashley Siebels
We know that sitting is bad for you, but it’s such an essential part of office work for so many professionals that we have to keep hearing it again and again until we truly understand it.
A science advisory by the American Heart Association in the journal Circulation that cited various research said that adults in the US are “sedentary” for a whopping 6-8 hours daily (“including sitting, TV viewing, screen time, and computer use”).
But people aged 60 and older spent even more time in this state every day— up to 8.5 to 9.6 hours sitting down, nearly motionless, out of every day.
The research also said that this “behavior could contribute to excess morbidity and mortality.”
That’s no surprise. We’ve known this since 2015. So why talk about it again? Here’s the key: it’s not changing.
“Regardless of how much physical activity someone gets, prolonged sedentary time could negatively impact the health of your heart and blood vessels,” said Deborah Rohm Young, Ph.D., director of behavioral research at Kaiser Permanente Southern California in Pasadena and chair of the research, said in a statement.
So if sitting down is bad, then standing desks will solve all your problems, right? Not necessarily.
Although there are reasons why having a standing desk can reportedly be beneficial, science cited in the article says that having one isn’t that much better than sitting when it comes to burning calories. The same article also points out that you might get pain in your back, feet or legs if you transition to standing the whole day. A standing desk is especially bad for people who are standing on hard floors or whose legs have a tendency to swell.
That doesn’t mean giving up entirely. While standing for hours may not be the key, walking around is a good alternative.
Try taking small walking breaks over the course of the work day– a small study claims to be “the first evidence that microbrusts of activity during the day” may even help your energy, help you feel less tired and influence mood “while maintaining usual levels of cognitive function.” More active and smarter: that’s a pretty good reason to take a stroll or walk up some stairs during the day.