7.05.2011

Sitting increases death risk: study | Health & Fitness | Life | Toronto Sun

Sitting increases death risk: study | Health & Fitness | Life | Toronto Sun

So, here's an article which states that studies show an increased rate of death in people who sit for longer hours per day.  Really breaking some new ground there aren't we?  Many folks in the paleo world combat sedentary work life by using a standing desk, and increasing their activity by walking, exercising, and playing.

But here's an example of intellectually dishonest reporting of research.  This is the kind of lazy journalism that makes people freak out about things needlessly.  Perhaps...just perhaps... there are many other factors that go in to causing these numbers.  As scientists, we must critically think about the research, because correlations are made by the researchers, and not by the facts.  (Remember, often when one looks for something hard enough they'll find it)  ALWAYS be skeptical... but in this case, I put most of the blame on the journalism.

First off, look at the brevity of the news article.  It's not as though there are any real details about the study, but all they state are that sedentary people are vastly more prone to dying young.  My guess is that this is a chicken vs. egg scenario:  Are people unhealthy because are sitting for long hours?  Or are people with unhealthy lifestyles prone to sitting more...  I'm sure that the answer lies somewhere in between those possibilities, but the study is inconclusive, and lacks quite a bit of data in that regard.  No mention of diet, and snacking habits of those who sit more.
More annoying, is the way these articles seem to anoint these types of studies as fact, or truth.  And no doubt, millions of people all across this nation will eat this up, and yet another awareness wristband will be invented to bring awareness to the "Anti-Sitting for Your Heart" movement.  Next, they'll start banning sitting desks at all elementary schools (see Nut Allergy post), and sitting at work will garner you the same disapproving lip-smacks and sneers usually reserved for smokers.

Thomas Jefferson Standing Desk
However, I do believe there are some health benefits to doing your work while standing involving back aches and posture.  Many folks in the paleosphere recommend standing desks because of the increased exertion and the fact that other studies show improved brain activity while in the standing position.  Many great thinkers, like Thomas Jefferson, preferred to work standing up.  Here's a great website with a TON of options for stand up desks, aptly named "Standupdesks.com".

Personally, I've been looking for a standing desk, but I'm planning on doing it DIY.

Here's a link to the study itself, something most forms of media won't do:
http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2010/07/21/aje.kwq155

http://blogs.hbr.org/your-health-at-work/2010/08/the-many-benefits-of-standing.html

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