Is sitting the new smoking?

There’s no running away from it: the more you sit, the poorer your health… no matter how much you run, or how fit you are.

by Selene Yeager

A step too far

At a treadmill desk, runner Mark Remy tries to mix business with ‘pleasure’

First comes the novelty: I’m working on a treadmill! Which for me, wore off in about 90 seconds. Then come the gawkers. If you use a treadmill desk in a public office space, people pause, ogle, inquire and joke. You can’t blame them, but it’s hard to focus when you feel like a sides how attraction.

After a few days of working on one, the incline of my enthusiasm level was stuck at zero. But, hey, tedium is a small price to pay for keeping death at bay, right? Because surely you know by now that sitting all day will kill you. Really, if research is to be believed, if you sit too much you might as well have a 20-a-day habit.

This is why I’ve been using an adjustable stand-up desk for about two years now. When I feel like sitting, I lower the keyboard tray and monitor; when I want to stand, I raise it. Easy as pie. This arrangement has made a real difference to how I feel and maybe even how I run – my muscles feel looser and I get fewer knots in my shoulders and neck at the end of the day.

You’d think that taking the next logical step – on to a treadmill workstation – would make me feel even better. Well, it certainly didn’t hurt. But I didn’t feel that walking while I worked helped me, say, recover quicker from a run or warm up better before one. It didn’t do much formy creative juices either. Strolling outdoors might help me clear my head; running outdoors almost always does. But on a treadmill? Not so much.

Working on a treadmill wasn’t bad as such, but it did feel strange. There’s a disconnect between the lower and upper halves of your body. Above the waist, you’re typing. Below, you’re taking a stroll. You feel like a mythological creature with the legs of a pedestrian and the torso of an office worker. At the end of the two weeks, I can’t say the treadmill experiment transformed my running, but the extra 400kcal it told me I burned every day certainly justified a post-work beer…

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Discuss this article

I really disagree with this artical. I used to have a very active job as a tyre fitter and was on my feet all day. I was so unfit and overweight I developed type 2 diabetes. Ichanged jobs to work behind a desk in the civil service, and no exercise on a regular basis and have lost lots of weight, got my bmi right down, and now nearly cleared my diabetes, well its completly under control. So my question is, if was so unfit doing a very active job, and now do a desk job with exercise, how am I much healthier?

I understand it will be the exercise i do, which is coupled with healthy eating that has changed my body and health, and not the job I do. So please people if you lead a healthy life, eat well and exercise on regular basis, ignor this artical.

Posted: 30/09/2013 at 19:26

answer to the question?


Posted: 30/09/2013 at 19:28

What rubbish.  People in wheechairs are, by definition, sitting down the entire time but I'd wager Dave Weir and Hannah Cockroft are way fitter than me.

Posted: 01/10/2013 at 08:19

You need to re-read the article and re-think your argument. No one is suggesting that sitting - by itself - is going to kill you, or  that not sitting - by itself - constitutes a healthy lifestyle. Obviously, what you do, or don't do, in the rest of your life matters a lot. All this article is arguing is that sitting for too long is bad for you. Nothing in what you have written contradicts that claim. 

Posted: 06/10/2013 at 10:35

i sugest you re read the artical especially this

"‘We were very surprised that even the highest level of exercise did not lead to a reduced time spent sitting,’ says study author Professor Marc Hamilton. In fact, regular exercisers may actually make less effort to move outside their designated workout time. Research this year from Illinois State University, US, found that people are about 30 per cent less active overall on days when they exercise versus days they don’t hit the road or the gym. Maybe they think they’ve worked out enough for one day. But experts say most people simply aren’t running, walking or even just standing enough to counteract all the harm that results from sitting for eight or nine – or even 10 – hours aday."

it clearly points to the sitting and exericse having a link. the days i do not exercise, and i am sure many that do, take their rest days, as rest days, which would mean more sitting. this allows the body to repair itself and get ready to exercise again. i am further sure many would point to not resting as the road to injuries and overworking the body. the first part mentions people who do exercise, then the second part of the paragraph goes completely to the other end of the scale and mentions research regarding people who do not exercise at all.

i take your point that sitting is not the main think which will cause health issues, however, this article is pointing to a direct link to each other, and as the point made earlier, how do you account for people who are wheekchair users?

Posted: 06/10/2013 at 22:44

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