Remember a few months ago when people said things such like “Sitting is the new smoking”, and we would all nod solemnly and not just all-out laugh? That’s the thing about the wellness society in which we are all ‘thriving’. We’re not quick to call BS. We rarely question. If it sounds like it is true, it might just be?
Well, one study is nixing that oh-dear-am-I-dying-because-of-client-management-software feeling in the bud. Researchers from the University College of London have found being sedentary in work all day isn’t all that bad for one’s health, as long as you balance your workday lifestyle with physical activity other parts of the day. Walk in the morning, jog in the evenings, yoga before bed, schedule in a picturesque cycle at the weekends, or tempt a pal into a hike with the promise of a picnic and a view on a Sunday morning.
The study was initially conducted from 1997 to 1999, with 3,720 men and 1,412 women who lived in London sharing their weekly sitting ‘diaries’. Last summer the researchers checked in with the original participants to see how their health fared in the past decade. Yes, 450 people had died in the meantime, but according to the study, “No associations were observed between any of the five sitting indicators and mortality risk.” In fact, the scientists put forward the conclusion that all this sitting down we’re accustomed to in modern life has nothing to do with an increased risk of death.
However, let’s not all raise a glass to the Netflix and actually-just-chill lifestyle just yet. The researchers think the main reason participants escaped the spectre of early death was down to daily walking in the English capital, which when high in volume is “protective”. The London commute is well-known for its gruelling demands. Standing on a train or bus all the way to your destination is a common ask and people in London tend to walk twice as much as people in the rest of the UK.
So, next time you feel a bit sluggish in work and worried about your desk-to-bed lifestyle, sit down with a planner and block off some fitness hours. Devote a few lunches a week to walking. Find an exercise class near the office for either a morning or evening escape. Watch pilates tutorials on YouTube. Just don’t freak out about your desks like all the magazines and websites were telling you to. Actually, it may be the 9-to-5 that’s the real villain…