Modern life for many of us is pretty comfortable. We spend our days sat in a comfy chair in front of a computer, from which we can order lunch straight to our desk, buy the weekly shop (when our boss isn’t looking) and then hail an Uber to ferry us home at the end of the day. Our lives have never been more convenient.
But there is a downside to our convenience culture – put simply, we’re spending too much time on our asses and risking our health in the process. People who sit down for extended periods of time (read: those of us with desk jobs) are at almost double the risk of dying younger, a new study suggests.
The research, by academics at Columbia University, found that sitting down for prolonged periods is terrible for our health – even if we hit the gym regularly. It flies in the face of earlier research by Cambridge University which suggested that spending just an hour exercising could undo the risks of early death linked to a desk-bound lifestyle.
The study, of nearly 8,000 adults aged 45 and older, found that those who spent no longer than half an hour at a time sitting down had the lowest risk of death, while those who regularly spent up to 90 minutes on their behinds were most likely to die young.
However, the negative impact of sitting is far less if you move every 30 minutes, the findings suggested. At least this makes it justifiable to take a few extra coffee breaks or even – shock horror – venture beyond the office canteen for lunch.
“Sitting really is the new smoking," said researcher Monika Safford. She added: "We need creative ways to ensure we not only cut back on the amount we sit but increase regular bursts of activity," The Sun reported.
Last year's research by Cambridge University drew a similarly damning conclusion about our desk-bound lifestyles. It found that one in six of all deaths – 90,000 per year – were the result of inactivity, which increased the risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, strokes, cancer and dementia. The Cambridge academics also estimated nearly four in 10 of us (37%) spend no more than 30 minutes each day on our feet. We're popping out for a stroll around the block, stat.