Heart & Home

Science Says Sitting Is Killing Us

Well, it's official: Everything is bad for you. We know that we could have made this announcement many years ago — as seemingly every kind of food, drink or activity has been called "detrimental" to your health — but it took a new report to force our hand. According to The New York Times, sitting will kill you. Yes, every moment spent sitting is a moment bringing the cold, hard hand of Death closer to your neck.

The study focused on a huge survey that was conducted in Australia. The "Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study" asked over 12,000 Australian adults questions about their general health, their diets, their exercise habits and their TV viewing schedules. The researchers asked about watching TV to help them gauge how much time the people spent sitting. "People can answer a question like, ‘How much time did you spend watching TV yesterday?’ much better than a question like ‘How much time did you spend sitting yesterday?'" Dr. J. Lennert Veerman, a senior research fellow at the University of Queensland, Australia, told the Times. What they found was that people spent a hell of a lot of time enjoying the ol' story box. In 2008 alone, the data showed that Australian adults spend 9.8 billion hours viewing TV.

Veerman and associates then do what most scientists do — they crunched the numbers in a complex way. By doing so, they were able to see just how those hours of TV watching impacted health. According to them, every hour spent watching TV reduces our life expectancy by 21 minutes. That's faster than smoking, which reduces our time on Earth by 11 minutes. What's worse is that people who exercised didn't fare any better. Sitting actually trumps all that iron you've been pumping. "A person who does a lot of exercise but watches six hours of TV every night, might have a similar mortality risk as someone who does not exercise and watches no TV," explained the report.

So why is sitting killing us? Well, according to another expert, it's because when we sit, everything is just, well, sitting there and not doing anything. "The most striking feature of prolonged sitting is the absence of skeletal muscle contractions, particularly in the very large muscles of the lower limbs,” David Dunstan, a professor at the IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Australia, explained.

The experts suggest tiny changes to our lifestyles to counter the impact of TV. They say that the simple act of getting up and walking around during commercial breaks can set back the time we're sitting, and thus add minutes to our life. But we don't believe them. If sitting is now bad for us, then walking around our house is too. There is no hope. In fact, reading this is probably giving you cancer. Sorry, but it's true. You just lost minutes of your life on this site. Happy Monday!

[Pic via Flickr - Victor1558]

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