Beth Stebner
October 15, 2015 5:19 am

You might want to sit down to read this.

It turns out, sitting all day might not be as bad for you as previously thought, even though past medical research suggested America’s favorite pastime – sitting and sedentary behavior – could kill you.

And, just like that, we all rushed to buy standing desks and started fidgeting like our lives depended on it.

But a new study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that sitting isn’t, in fact, playing Russian Roulette with death. In fact, researchers found sitting and standing aren’t all that different for a person who is sedentary. (This is super good news for me, since, as a writer, I spend most of my day sitting at my desk telling Death, “Not today!” Arya Stark style).

Researchers at the University of Exeter and University College London tracked the health data of 5,132 people (3,720 men and 1,412 women) – all of them free of heart disease – starting in 1997, through 1999. Each of the participants, mostly office workers in London, was asked to record their time watching TV, other leisure time, and how long they sat during the work day. Sixteen years later, the group was asked to come in for re-evaluation.

A quarter century later, the study found that 450 people had died, but found no risk between sitting and their deaths. Researchers also couldn’t link sitting to any specific diseases or an increased risk for heart disease or diabetes.

According to Dr. Melvyn Hillsdon from Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Exeter, “the results cast doubt on the benefits of sit-stand work stations, which employers are increasingly providing to promote healthy working environments.”

The idea is simple – the absence of moving appears to be the culprit, not simply sitting. So if you’re standing for long amounts of time at your desk, you’re still not burning calories or using your muscles.

“Policy makers should be cautious in recommending a reduction in the time spent sitting without also promoting increased physical activity,” Hillsdon said in a statement.

So let’s recap – sitting won’t kill you, at least according to this study. And it may not be worth begging your boss for a standing desk since you’re still basically inactive.

If you’re going to ask your boss for anything, why not try to convince her of adapting a 6-hour workday, like many companies in Sweden do? Just a thought.

(Image via NBC)

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