Ever find yourself annoyed while, say, at the DMV, on a train or in a doctor's waiting room because everyone else got a seat—but you didn't?
So you are forced to stand for 10…20…maybe even 30 minutes?
The next time you face this irritating situation, thank your lucky stars—because due to the “inconvenience” of standing, you may end up living longer than the people who got seats!
In other words, sitting might kill you. That's the message from a recent Australian study.
So is it really that easy to lengthen your life—just don’t sit down as much? Here’s what the research really found…
What the researchers discovered: People age 45 or older who sat for four to eight hours a day had a 2% increased risk for death within three years, compared to those who sat for less than four hours a day…those who sat for eight to 11 hours a day, on average, had a 15% greater risk…and subjects who sat for 11 or more hours a day had a 40% greater risk!
And these stats held true even after the researchers controlled for age, gender, weight, physical activity level, diabetes and other preexisting cardiovascular health problems. Now, of course, this doesn’t mean that sitting necessarily caused those people to die, but it is certainly an unsettling association.
Emily Banks, MBBS, PhD, a professor of epidemiology at Australian National University in Canberra and a study coauthor, has some theories as to why standing may be linked to better health. For example, when you stand, you usually walk around, an activity that increases the rate at which you burn calories. And even short periods of standing raises the level of lipase, an enzyme that’s essential for breaking down fat and turning it into energy—yet another important factor when it comes to living a long and healthy life.
This study examined only the total amount of time spent sitting each day, so researchers can’t say whether sitting for short or long stints at a time made a difference. But Dr. Banks noted that prior studies suggest that sitting for shorter periods may pose fewer health risks.
There are some instances where you have to sit, of course. But there are lots of situations (more than you might think) in which you have the option to stand. Dr. Banks suggests trying the following…
I bet you can find even more ways in your own life to stop sitting so much—so please share your personal tip in the comment section below!
Source: Emily Banks, MBBS, PhD, is a professor of epidemiology at the National Center for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University in Canberra. She is also the scientific director of the 45 and Up Study, which conducts research into the health of people ages 45 and over, including the recent study on the benefits of standing. The research was published in March in Archives of Internal Medicine.