If you have a desk job, take note
By Jenny Cook
We all know how perilous a desk job can be for our posture, but new research shows that the consequences of a sedentary job could be worse than originally thought – potentially doubling the risk of premature death.
However, while this will certainly sound like bad news for the majority of British workers (who spend an average of nine hours a day sitting down), they can take comfort from the fact that a small amount of movement every so often can help offset much of the damage.
A research team in the United States analysed the data of almost 8,000 people aged 45 and above to see how bouts of sedentary behaviour might influence the risk of all-cause mortality. Over a four-year follow-up period, the activity of each participant was assessed using a hip-mounted accelerometer. On average, participants spent a total of 12.3 hours sitting down, with each single period of sedentary behaviour lasting 11.4 minutes.
It was found that those who kept their sitting bouts to less than 30 minutes had the lowest risk of death, while people who sat for 13 hours of more per day almost doubled their risk of death. A total of 340 participants died during the follow-up period. The report reads:
“Both the total volume of sedentary time and its accrual in prolonged, uninterrupted bouts are associated with all-cause mortality, suggestive that physical activity guidelines should target reducing and interrupting sedentary time to reduce risk for death.”
The research team, led by Dr Keith Dias Ph.D., of Columbia University Medical Centre in New York, said that their findings indicate that getting up and moving around a bit every half an hour – even if it’s just to go to the loo or grab a coffee – could help reduce any associated risks.
Although the study sample might not be representative of the US population as a whole, Dr Diaz did say that using activity monitors rather than relying on self-reporting measures meant the findings were much more reliable.
The study was published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.