Sitting is the New Smoking

A friend sent me this article, which I found fascinating. I figure the article is also a nice break from the generally political, socioeconomic, and philosophical bent of Difficult Run.

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.”

So inserting exercise chunks into an otherwise sedentary lifestyle might help control calories and weight but not the big issues like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression, etc. What I want to figure out next, then, is how can we help people who are essentially trapped by their job sitting for 8-10 hours a day? Will standing desks make a difference? Would trying to avoid sitting everywhere outside the office make a big enough difference? How attainable is a non-sedentary lifestyle for the population at large? The costs of poor health are real, making this research extremely worthwhile and also proving that not a single Difficult Run article can pass without tying back to economics or politics somehow.

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