I’m old, sedentary and slouch a lot – will sitting less help me live longer?
A new study says that standing up and moving around could hugely reduce your risk of an early death – but how easy is it if you work at a computer?
co-author of a study that found that people need to sit less in order to live longer. The study doesn’t specifically talk about standing, it’s about not sitting. The standing-sitting debate is an ongoing one, but I’m going to stand because it’s not sitting. And I’m going to move, that’s the key.oday, I’m standing up in the office. Because Dr Keith Diaz says I’ll die if I don’t get up and move. Who’s he? An expert in behavioural medicine at Columbia University, and the
Swapping 30 minutes of sedentary time over the course of a day for half an hour of low-intensity activity reduces the risk of an early death by 17%. Thirty minutes for 17%! That’s got to be worth a little wander, hasn’t it? I’ll start with a visit to my editor, to berate her for commissioning me by email, even though she sits approximately four metres away.
My existence is extremely sedentary. I sit – slouch – at a desk in front of a screen all day. Then I go home and sit, generally in front of a screen. Sometimes, I work at home and then I often do so – I’m ashamed to say this – in bed. There’s nothing in the survey about lying down all day, but I can’t believe it’s good. “Sitting is harmful, and is going to increase your risk [of death] no matter how you sit,” said Diaz.
Not only am I static, I’m old. I’m 53. The Columbia research was of people aged 45 and over. This is about people like me; people in danger. That’s why I’m standing in the office.
Yes, it feels a bit daft when everyone else is sitting down. No, I’m not going to make a speech; yeah laugh, but who’s going to die first?
The posture and physical ergonomics need fine-tuning. I have got my screen balancing on one pile of books, keyboard on another, mouse on a third. I’m going to find out who’s in charge of desks, and then I’m going to actually physically go and see them about getting one of those proper standy-uppy ones. It’s all about that movement, remember?
But this is just about what it’s like to not sit down all day. And, you know what? It’s really not so hard. A touch of the museum/art gallery squirms creep in after two hours. But I’m finding I can shake them off by thinking of all the extra time I’ll be getting at the end.
• This article was amended on 18 January 2019 to more accurately reflect the findings of the study that Dr Keith Diaz co-authored. The research found that periods of sitting should be replaced with exercise in order to ward off an early death, not, as an earlier version said, that standing more was one of the ways to lower the risk of early death.