Sit down, on pain of death

That's pretty much the message in New Scientist's latest publication (29 June 2013), by Richard A. Lovett.

Cheerful, isn't it?

I'm usually quite brave about the odd your-lifestyle-will-kill-you article but this one did hit a nerve, somewhere in my lackadaisical butt.

The article goes something like this: sitting down is really, really bad for you - even if you exercise as well. Sitting transforms your muscles into fibres that rely more on glucose; cells lose mitochondria; and fat collects in your blood, liver and colon.

Doing what I do best  (c) MH Photos

Being sedentary is well noted to affect health, but new research shows that heading to the gym after a day in the office won't make up for the hours spent motionless. This is a real worry for anyone with a desk job (me), people who love to slob out with a book or in front of the telly (me), and even those who do work out but for a slotted period - like evenings and weekends (me again).

The article points out that, yes, exercising in compacted slots is better than no exercise at all - but it doesn't change the fact you could have caused some serious damage sitting down with little or no movement for a few hours or more. Even fidgeting doesn't help, apparently.

One study suggests that each hour of sitting watching TV slices 22 minutes off the average life expectancy of an adult over 25 (University of Queensland, Brisbane). It's official, guys: the Lord of the Rings trilogy will actually kill you.

This makes for depressing reading. What are we supposed to do?

Well, the scientists haven't got much further than suggesting you get up and move as much as possible. They point out that if you're a hairdresser or anyone else with a job that is predominantly done standing, you made the right career move.

I'm not feeling better yet. What else?

Set a timer to remind you to get up from your desk every 20 minutes, dance down the corridor to the loo and invent a super-smart desk that alternates its height so you can work sitting, standing and squatting (might as well fit in a bums class at the same time). It could even zoom off down the room so you do some running.

No guarantee I'll chase after my work though.

P.S. I wrote (most of) this blog standing up.


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