If you’re reading this from your standing desk, you can sit down. Turns out, sitting isn’t the new smoking — or, at least, it’s a little more complicated than that.
For years, researchers have been publishing studies that report the amount of time you spend sitting can increase your risk for Type 2 diabetes. But new research, led by the University of Sydney, suggests it might not be how much time you sit but where you’re sitting that’s the bigger problem.
Among the first to study the long-term link between sitting behaviors and the risk of developing diabetes, researchers compared health data collected in 1998 from 4,811 middle-aged office workers who were diabetes-free to blood glucose levels taken in 2011 from the same cohort. They also analyzed the amount of time the participants spent in various context-specific sitting situations: work sitting (including commuting and driving), TV sitting, non-TV leisure time sitting at home and leisure time sitting at home.
During the 13-year period, 402 participants developed incident diabetes. But after adjusting for diet, physical activity, employment, drinking and smoking habits, and general health of the participants, the researchers found there was little evidence linking total sitting time and Type 2 diabetes.
“While these findings don’t exonerate sitting, they do suggest that there is far more at play than we previously realised when it comes to sedentary behaviours and the health risks associated with extended sitting,” said lead author Associate Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis from the Charles Perkins Centre and School of Public Health.
For example, the findings, published in the latest British Journal of Sports Medicine, indicate a moderate association between TV sitting and incident diabetes.
“But TV time and sitting time are practically uncorrelated, so we have very good reasons to believe that the health risks attributed to TV in the past are due to other factors, such as poorer mental health, snacking and exposure to unhealthy foods advertising,” Stamatakis said.
So stand to work if you like it, but sitting isn’t going to kill you.
Special thanks to our guest Kelsey Allen for writing this article.
British Journal of Sports Medicine. URL Link. Accessed February 14, 2017.
International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. URL Link. Accessed February 14, 2017.