Take a momentary break from stressing about saturated fat, second-hand smoke, carbohydrates, terrorism, stranger danger and lack of exercise to consider the new source of alarm: Sitting.
Consider this warning to the hyperkinetic readers of Runner’s World:
You’ve no doubt heard the news by now: A car-commuting, desk-bound, TV-watching lifestyle can be harmful to your health. All the time we spend parked behind a steering wheel, slumped over a keyboard, or kicked back in front of the tube is linked to increased risks of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and even depression—to the point where experts have labeled this modern-day health epidemic the “sitting disease.”
But wait, you’re a runner. You needn’t worry about the harms of sedentary living because you’re active, right? Well, not so fast. A growing body of research shows that people who spend many hours of the day glued to a seat die at an earlier age than those who sit less—even if those sitters exercise.
“Up until very recently, if you exercised for 60 minutes or more a day, you were considered physically active, case closed,” says Travis Saunders, a Ph.D. student and certified exercise physiologist at the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group at Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. “Now a consistent body of emerging research suggests it is entirely possible to meet current physical activity guidelines while still being incredibly sedentary, and that sitting increases your risk of death and disease, even if you are getting plenty of physical activity. It’s a bit like smoking. Smoking is bad for you even if you get lots of exercise. So is sitting too much.”
Unfortunately, outside of regularly scheduled exercise sessions, active people sit just as much as their couch-potato peers…
The denizens of ADCO — some of us, at any rate — have taken this to heart (and lung, and brain, and all the other organs affected by excessive sitting), and have started standing at their desks to work.
Meanwhile, others among us are both sitting and eating potato chips while writing this blog post.
We’ll report on the results of this internal study, if we’re still around when the data are in…