Sitting around leads to an early grave: study

Prolonged sitting in the workplace can lead to an earlier death, a study has found

Ruza Zivkusic-Aftasi | April 26, 2012

Prolonged sitting in the workplace can lead to an earlier death, a study has found.

VicHealth’s Reducing prolonged sitting in the workplace study has found that extended sitting has risen in recent decades largely due to the widespread use of computers and labour-saving devices and has been linked to chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and musculoskeletal disorders.

Although the research is based on those who work in the office, Associate Professor David Dunstan, who ran the study, says the results can also be linked to those who work in transportation and highly mechanised trades.

He says those behind the wheel should remember to take frequent rest breaks and exercise when possible.

"We should be looking for opportunities to break up the sedentary time and just move around on a more frequent basis," Dunstan says.

"What we are currently recommending in an office situation is that we should be encouraging some physical movement every half hour. I know what the challenges are in the transport industry in doing so.

"This is a very new area of research – I guess if I can gaze into a crystal ball I’d like to see more work done in that particular area but I don’t have the solutions at the moment and I certainly understand the challenges that exist within the transport industry."

The study, which was released earlier this week, says prolonged sitting is a risk factor for poor health and early death, even among those who meet, or exceed, national physical activity guidelines.

"To date, the majority of evidence on the impacts of sitting have focused either on total daily sitting time or have been specific to television viewing," the study says.

"For most adults, time spent sitting in the workplace is likely to be a significant contributor to a total daily sitting time; however, there is little evidence relating specifically to the prevalence and impacts of workplace sitting."

Sitting has been also associated with an increased risk of mental disorders and depression.

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