The enemy, our office chair.This is our destiny.  So as I type this I have chosen to stand – if only to gain a few more minutes on this earth.

This past weekend my spouse introduced me to yet another science program – almost as good as my beloved Radio Lab on NPR – Catalyst from ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission.)

How can this be?  More science for the average Joe (or Jane)!  Yes – and it is wonderful.  So while I was working we downloaded some recent episodes of Catalyst to enjoy… including one titled Sitting is Deadly.  Unlike my previous post (TV = Sooner Death) about TV killing us (due to sitting) this program started by saying… “one of your deadliest habits is one you indulge in most of your waking hours. It’s sitting. Yes, sitting.”

So now our office chair is our enemy…???

This research comes from Australian National University and Sydney University.  The study was huge – they followed two hundred thousand people (200,000 in case you weren’t really consuming that number) aged forty five and over.  Over a three year period around five thousand of those people in the study died.  They found that those who sat for prolonged periods of time, were more likely to die in the three years following the survey, than those who sat for shorter periods.

The numbers they cite are staggering and they are after accounting for things like age, smoking and as many other factors as the researchers could think of.  Basically they found that people who sat for more than eight hours a day, were at a fifteen percent greater risk of early death than those who sat for fewer than four hours.  And if you sat 11 hours, a 40% greater risk!  YIKES!  Time for office workers to revolt – get out your pedometer and get MOVING!

Oh and in case you think your aerobics class in the evening compensates – it doesn’t  – they found that even if you do the recommended daily amount of exercise, it still doesn’t cancel out the negative effects of sitting.  Sitting doesn’t provide any muscle contractions.  Muscle contractions, according to  Prof David Dunstan, help the body to efficiently clear blood sugar levels and blood fat levels.  He goes on to explain that elevated glucose levels can lead to inflammation, which if repeated on a number of days or weeks, can lead to heart disease and, and a host of other conditions such as cancer.

So if you have a high calorie meal that raises blood sugar levels – make sure to WALK after lunch.  Dunstan also states that it’s the physical movement that’s important, not the intensity.

So getting out of your chair every hour for a stroll down the hall and back, or a quick flight of stairs, may extend your life.