Prolonged Sitting may not Pose Special Health Risks

Long periods of sitting may not be as bad for health as previously thought. An extensive British study following 5,000 people for 16 years and published in the Oct. 9 International Journal of Epidemiology did not find any increased risk of early death from prolonged sitting. The results of this extensive study run counter to previous research claims that even regular exercise does not fully overcome the damage of too much sitting. The study did not cast any doubt on the benefits of exercise or the dangers of overall physical inactivity, but its results did suggest that prolonged sitting is no worse than other forms of inactivity, at least for risk of early death.

Study co-author Melvyn Hillsdon said “Policy makers should be cautious in recommending a reduction in the time spent sitting without also promoting increased physical activity…Our study overturns current thinking on the health risks of sitting and indicates that the problem lies in the absence of movement rather than the time spent sitting itself” and, he added, “The results cast doubt on the benefits of sit-stand work stations, which employers are increasingly providing to promote healthy working environments.” (See US News Article)

Consumers can emphasize getting enough exercise to make up for long periods of physical inactivity, with much less attention to the specific type or length of periods of physical inactivity.

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