Go on, take a break: Your life could depend on it. New research has found that sitting for too long can play a direct role in an early death. Don’t worry too much, though. Experts suggest that getting up to move around every half-hour or so may be enough to help counteract this risk.
Research published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine appears to confirm what has long been suspected: Your desk job is slowly killing you. The research found a link between sitting for too many hours during the day and risk of early death, suggesting that doing one may lead to the other.
“I think the simple message is sit less, move more, and move frequently,” study co-author Keith Diaz tells Newsweek in an email.
Unfortunately, between commuting and office work, it's difficult for many to avoid sitting for extended periods of time. The study suggests that “interrupting sedentary time” would help reduce this risk and that even very short breaks can make a difference.
“We found that the longer your movement break the better (that is, the lower your risk of death), and the more intense your movement break the better,” says Diaz. “Our minimum definition of a movement break was one minute.”
For the study, researchers followed 7,985 adults over four years, noting everything from age, to how long the individuals spent seated, to how often they got up for breaks and how vigorously they spent that time. The results showed that individuals who sat for longer periods of time without any breaks were more likely to die early from all causes of death. Diaz hypothesizes that frequent movement may help to manage blood sugar levels and prevent the formation of blood clots in the legs.
The finding is likely not shocking to most, as exercise has been hailed as the solution to nearly all health problems. However, before you begin to get too gloomy about your means of income ultimately leading to an early death, it's important to follow the money behind this study. The study was mostly funded by the National Institutes of Health, but if you look a bit closer you can see the researchers also received funding in the form of an unrestricted grant from the Coca-Cola Co.
While the researchers disclosed where the money came from and emphasized that these grants had no influence on the outcomes, as has been suggested by Ars Technica, it's not too big of a leap to imagine that the biggest soda company in the country would like to shift some of the heat for America’s health problems off of Big Sugar and onto another scapegoat.
Ultimately, yes, one shouldn’t sit for too long. Getting up for frequent breaks is healthy for the body and mind. Still, don’t let fear of sitting keep you up at night, because in another week or so there’s bound to be a new health study to worry about.