Getting Out of Your Chair This Often Could Help You Live Longer

You don't even need a full workout—just walking to the water cooler can help.

walkingg-stockstudio/ShutterstockYou’ve heard it before: Sitting all day isn’t good for you. Sure it causes back pain, but studies have also linked sedentary time with diabetes, heart problems, kidney disease, and more. But the good news is, getting up every now and then could do major things for your health.

For one week, 7,985 adults 45 and older wore devices that could track when they went from sitting (or standing still) to walking. On average, the participants were sedentary for more than 12 hours a day—yikes. Researchers followed up with those volunteers for another four years, and 340 of the participants died during that time.

Across the board, sitting was linked with bad health results. Those who had spent more than 13 hours a day staying still and tended to go at least an hour without moving were at the highest risk of dying early, according to the results in Annals of Internal Medicine. But before you start stressing about your desk job, know there’s a good way to fight against the health risks (plus these other signs your job is hurting your health).

Even if you don’t have time for a full walk, just getting up for a moment could lower your risk of death. Volunteers who walked around at least every 30 minutes were less likely to have died than those who went longer without moving—even if both spent the same number of total hours sitting. (Not to mention they probably worked in these 15 benefits of a 15-minute walk.) The tracking device couldn’t tell if the participants were sitting or standing still, so it couldn’t show the effects of, say, using a standing desk.

Weirdly enough, regular exercise barely lowered the risk of death among people who went longer than 30 minutes without moving. In other words, squeezing in a long gym session won’t necessarily make up for an entire day of sitting. It’s not just about how much time you spend moving, but how often you do it. See the difference? (But that’s not to say you should give up gym time yet—here are 14 health benefits of exercising beyond weight loss.)

Keep up your regular workout routine (or use these exercise rules for beginners if you don’t have one yet), but try to get up more during the rest of the day, too. “If you have a job or lifestyle where you have to sit for prolonged periods of time, we suggest taking a movement break every half hour,” lead researcher Keith Diaz, PhD, said in a statement. “This one behavior change could reduce your risk of death, although we don’t yet know precisely how much activity is optimal.” Try these other ways to recover from a day of sitting, too.

Setting an alarm on your phone can remind you to get up, and it doesn’t have to be a full-on workout. Get a drink of water, pop by a coworker’s desk, or find a quiet corner to do this stretch that relieves back pain caused by sitting.

[Source: New York Times]

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Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.