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Oh S(h)it

June 26, 2013

Whenever I decide that it’s time to take a break from the thousands of hours of driving I do on a daily basis, there is usually a quick trip to the kitchen to grab a snack before the inevitable settling into the living room couch for a good sit down.

Except yesterday, when I started paging through the health section Time magazine and found out that I should be dropping dead any second now.

Another study has found that sitting for too long increases your risk for death. The study found that adults who sat for eleven hours or more a day had a 40% increased risk of dying in the next three years than those who sat for less than four hours a day.

Besides the fact that I can’t even imagine losing your life while being so comfortable, I was flabbergasted as I read further. It doesn’t even seem to matter that you spend hours at the gym. If you sit, you die.

Sitting Death

This man sat down just 20 minutes ago.

I began to panic, then added up the number of hours I spend on my ass. I started thinking of all the great types of historic and awesome sitting; Sitting Bull, “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay,” Sit ‘n Spins, sit-in protests, sitting shiva — all of them… killing us.

I love sitting. Even after a long day of activity, there is nothing like kicking off your shoes and planting your aft end on a couch cushion.

But thanks in part to this research, there’s even some sort of movement to bring treadmill desks into this conversation.

When I sat down to write this, I actually yelled “NO!” and sprung back up on my feet so I could type standing.

Also, that is not working AT ALL, so I’m  going to have to hunker back down for the duration of this post, slowly chugging closer to my own death just to meet a deadline.

I am slain.

If I seem panicked, it’s because lately I’ve become consumed with my own mortality and exactly how long I’ve got left. Studies come and studies go, and I’m sure many of us are not better for having read and absorbed the information they contain, it comes as no surprise that common folk like myself read something like this and wonder how many years they’ve shaved off their own existence  by reclining in front of a whole season of television shows and cable specials.

Now, excuse me while I go walk in circles.

23 Comments leave one →
  1. June 26, 2013 12:51 pm

    Found this interesting article while reading your post. Money quote:

    Sitting, it would seem, is an independent pathology. Being sedentary for nine hours a day at the office is bad for your health whether you go home and watch television afterward or hit the gym. It is bad whether you are morbidly obese or marathon-runner thin. “Excessive sitting,” Dr. Levine says, “is a lethal activity.”

    I’m very interested in this study because my office job is 8 hours of sitting. The article talks about NEAT, which is fidgeting and small movements. I fidget a LOT. So I’m hoping that if I stretch a bit more and keep fidgeting, I’ll be all right.

    Also, people emphasize the treadmill desks, but it sounds like even having a stand-up desk improves metabolic function.


    • bronwenofhindscroft permalink
      June 26, 2013 1:37 pm

      Oh great! Don’t tell the hubby about the fidgeting thing. He already fidgets too much, if you ask me.

  2. Duckie permalink
    June 26, 2013 1:01 pm

    We have stand-up desks (optional) at my workplace. I started using one a couple of years ago, on most days. If the height is set up right, typing while standing is actually pretty comfortable. Also, I can dance/wiggle around while working. I do keep a chair close by so I can give my back and legs a rest as needed – and I find that I problem solve differently when I am standing up than when I am sitting down, so sometimes I switch it up just to get my brain working differently.

    I started using the stand up desk to help improve my circulation, stamina, and basically, to prove to myself that despite being a fat girl that I could do it!

    And you know what? Not only can I do it, but I have improved my health by doing it! I do, indeed feel that my circulation and stamina are better. I feel stronger. I can walk further and stand longer without getting winded or in too much pain. My core muscles have strengthened, which has helped improve my back pain. My knees seem to be in less pain. I also find that my sleep and appetite are more regular – though I’m not sure if that is related to working standing up or not.

    All that being said, I don’t think I’d like to add a tread mill – I like dancing/pacing around too much to stay moving in one direction. Also, I am still when I type. I think movement would decrease my typing efficiency in the moment. I’ve seen some research supporting that as well – that treadmill desks actually decrease efficiency. It’s also worth noting that sometimes I still choose to sit at a regular desk – particularly if I’ve had a sprain/strain or other illness or injury.

  3. Elizabeth permalink
    June 26, 2013 2:35 pm

    Comment from dead woman: I actually died while sitting and reading this post. I was disabled, at least partially from driving myself so hard for many years, and everyone agreed I needed to rest, but look where it got me: right into my grave. Actually, it’s quite comfortable here and I’ll never have to read another study telling people they will lose 12 minutes of life because they haven’t done what some guy who writes studies (and spends his life sitting) tells them they should be doing.

  4. Carol Gwenn permalink
    June 26, 2013 2:50 pm

    Funny post.

    You know, there’s a way to avoid the worry, the hair-pulling, head banging, etc. caused by these prophesy of doom articles: IGNORE THEM!

    I’ve discovered in my nearly 65 years on this earthly sphere that the people who worry most about their health are the ones who drop like flies. Those of us who just try to be sensible about it all (eat when hungry, move around some every day, get a good night’s sleep) may get sick on occasion but we seem to stick around. If we actually paid attention to all the nay-sayers (tuna is poison – bacon will kill you – coffee is lethal, ad infinitum), we not only worry ourselves to death but go crazy into the bargain.

    So, you choose: worry yourself into the boneyard or have a nice sit down at day’s end. Got to go – it’s time to settle my backside in the chair, put up my feet & relax…ahhhhhhhhh…..

  5. Dizzyd permalink
    June 26, 2013 3:34 pm

    I wonder if the 8 hours you spend sleeping count towards it. I mean, seriously! Don’t these guys have anything better to do than to come up with all these ‘OMG!We’re all gonna die!!’ ‘health’ reports? I can understand needing to move around more, but for crying out loud! It’s like they don’t want you to relax or something. You’re gonna die eventually, so you might as well relax, accept it, make your peace with God, etc.

  6. violetyoshi permalink
    June 26, 2013 5:58 pm

    Treadmill desks? Oh then it isn’t about health at all, it’s just about selling more pointless crap! A treadmill desk I ought to…I’m just saying really, people think health now is literally about walking on a treadmill 24/7 like some sort of hamster. Hey, while they’re at it maybe they should build some adult habitrails. Anyone remember Discovery Zone?

    • Rubyfruit permalink
      June 26, 2013 6:52 pm

      I remember Discovery Zone. That was the best thing ever when I was a kid.
      But…treadmill desk? Why not go the whole nine yards and just have people do their work in giant hamster wheels instead of cubicles…

      No, wait. Office habitrails, complete with giant wheels, would be kind of fun (at least for me, but I’m weird). And as we know, according to the Health Police, fun things don’t count as exercise.

  7. June 26, 2013 8:03 pm

    So I guess I should be dead by now? My days involve around 12 hours of sitting in the office, on a plane, on a train, at a restaurant… interspersed with the occasional walking break when I’m on the phone. I’d probably do something to kill any treadmill desk our company would try to force on me. I’ve heard that using some fine-grained silicon composite as a lubricant is pretty much instantaneously ruinous for machinery.

    If the 40% chance is cumulative and I’ve been working for eight years now, I guess I should be… around 110% dead?

    Instead, I’m feeling better lately now that I’m resting by -gasp!- sitting on the couch! more after work.

  8. June 26, 2013 9:24 pm

    Too many studies. Reminds me of my sister’s great idea for a self-help book: “People Who Read Too Much”.

  9. vesta44 permalink
    June 26, 2013 10:41 pm

    I don’t care if sitting all day long shortens my life – what’s it going to take away from me? The years I’d spend in a nursing home not knowing who the hell I am or who anyone else is, drooling all over myself, and having someone change my diapers? Thanks very much, but I’d gladly miss those years.

    • Rubyfruit permalink
      June 27, 2013 11:14 am

      That’s the thing about studies that’ll “add years to your life”. They’re usually tacked on to the end.

  10. Erin S. permalink
    June 27, 2013 2:35 am

    If standing all day is so healthy, why is it that retail cashiers usually have more problems with their backs, knees, ankles, feet, etc than do people who have desk jobs? At least, everyone I personally know has had far fewer issues with regard to those body parts once they managed to get out of the stand all day at a register retail world and into the sit all day at a desk office world.

    • Duckie permalink
      June 28, 2013 11:23 pm

      Erin, I think it must be the twisting, turning, lifting, etc….plus the generally lower socioeconomic status that contributes to the problem. My job involves typing and talking on the phone, no heavy lifting or twisting, and I’m paid better than cashiers (health benefits too!). I also have the opportunity to take sitting breaks and keep working. I stand because I like to and my back, knees, and ankles have all improved noticeably.

  11. nof permalink
    June 27, 2013 9:14 am

    I wouldn’t worry too much about it. These are all epidemiology studies, and there are a host of problems with extrapolating an epidemiologic study to individual behavior. Epidemiology should really be more about finding directions for future research, not figuring out how individuals should act. Ben Goldacre’s TedTalk “Battling bad science” is a pretty good explanation.

  12. Dizzyd permalink
    June 27, 2013 4:54 pm

    Elizabeth – so what’s life like on the Other Side? Pls reply via seance.

    • Elizabeth permalink
      June 28, 2013 1:06 pm

      Actually, it’s quite homey. Unfortunately, there are quite a few thin, (previously) well-to-do people moaning about how they should never have died, but the rest of us figure they’ll settle down eventually and get with the program.

      • Dizzyd permalink
        July 7, 2013 7:01 pm

        OMG – I totally laughed out loud when I read that! (IN THE LIBRARY YET!)

  13. Dizzyd permalink
    June 27, 2013 4:57 pm


  14. Dizzyd permalink
    June 27, 2013 5:07 pm

    Everyone else – true! Nobody’s gettin’ out of here alive, so you might as well as relax. As someone who just left a retail job, it didn’t make me live longer, it just SEEMED longer. Maybe they just came up w/ this to silence those complaining retail clerks: ‘We’re helping you live longer, so shut up and get back to work!’

  15. June 28, 2013 10:22 am

    How about lying down? I like to read while lying on my stomach – is THAT going to kill me? What about sitting in school – do students face an increased risk of death?

    I’ve read studies like these before, but none of them have explained WHY. This conclusion makes no sense. I can understand that people who are extremely sedentary may have an increased risk of death, but sitting no matter what else you do? I think there has to be a third factor (and possibly a fourth, and a fifth…) that no one’s accounting for.

    I also find it interesting that the only risk they ever mention is death. Death from WHAT? I think we need a follow-up study on what these people actually die from. If they all died from heart disease, that would make SOME sense, but they can’t possibly die just from sitting – wouldn’t some kind of disease have to be correlated with sitting as well in order for the researchers to conclude that it actually CAUSES death?

    Oh well. The hell with these studies anyway. They’ve made me realize that I’d much prefer a short happy life of doing what *I* want over a long miserable one.of doing what a bunch of scientists want.

    • Dizzyd permalink
      July 7, 2013 7:02 pm

      Maybe they’re thinking death from boredom.

  16. Rubyfruit permalink
    June 28, 2013 4:57 pm

    …So, good health depends on literally moving every second of every day. I have to wonder if the people who do these studies seem to think that humans are like sharks or something. If exercise was an actual, paying job, this is probably the worst example of Work/Life Balance I’ve ever heard.

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