It seems every day there’s a new urgent news item reminding us of the harrowing consequences of our increasingly sedentary modern lifestyles. “Sitting is the new smoking!” “Is Your Job Killing You?” “The Hidden Dangers of Working in An Office.”
This morning was no different. As I sat down at my desk and turned on the computer, I was greeted by yet another study outlining the various ways my 9-5 is leading to my inevitable demise. This latest study, a major Lancet analysis of over one million adults, found that sitting for at least 8 hours a day could increase the risk of premature death by up to 60 percent. That is not insignificant.
However, hidden amongst all this modern day doom and gloom is a happy silver lining. While our office jobs are definitely killing us, the way we choose to arrive at them could just be the thing that saves us. The study researchers, led by Professor Ulf Ekelund from Cambridge University and the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences, found that even one hour of moderate activity per day – such as cycling or brisk walking – could eliminate the increased risk of death associated with high sitting time.
Stepping away from similar studies which recommend joining the gym or taking up sports, this latest Lancet study identified the significant health benefits of simply integrating exercise into your regular routine. The scientists recommend steps as simple as getting up every hour of the work day for five minutes, to perform a task as simple as getting a glass of water or going upstairs to the printer.
They recommend taking steps to get exercise wherever you can, which, given the hectic schedule of most modern workers, is most easily achieved by turning your commute into an active commute. They also made a number of policy recommendations for governments and business owners to foster healthier lifestyles, such as placing bus stops farther apart to encourage walking, building public gyms in parks and offering free workout classes, closing streets to cars on weekends to encourage active transportation, and introducing a minimum of 3 hours per week of physical education into school.
Toss in a recommendation for building better bike infrastructure and bike education programs, and you have a recipe for success.
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