News & Opinion | June 26, 2019 10:32 am

Some Kinds of Sitting Are Worse for You Than Others

Sitting at your desk all day isn't the worst thing you could be doing

There are worse ways you could be sitting
There are worse ways you could be sitting

We all know sitting is bad for your health, but it turns out certain kinds of sitting may be worse than others. As evidence continues to mount against the health risks of a sedentary lifestyle, the news has seemed particularly bleak for office workers who spend the majority of their days sitting at a desk. While many desk-bound employees have begun to seek alternative workplace practices, like standing desks and walking meetings in order to mitigate the health risks, it turns out sitting at a desk may not really be the heart of the problem.

According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, sitting at work may not pose as severe health risks as lounging around after you leave the office, Time reported. The study found that “leisure-time sitting,” like the kind of sitting you do while watching TV, poses greater risks for heart health and longevity than desk sitting.

In the study of 3,600 African American adults, a demographic that reports disproportionately high rates of cardiovascular issues, researchers found that sitting at work was not associated with an increased risk of death or heart disease. However, participants who reported watching four or more hours of television per day increased those health risks by 50 percent compared to those who watched under two hours.

So what makes desk sitting different from TV sitting? For one thing, leisure-time sitting may tend to accompany other unhealthy habits, like snacking and drinking, said the study’s first author Jeanette Garcia, an assistant professor of sport and exercise science at the University of Central Florida. Moreover, sitting at work may provide more opportunities to get up and move around, like when you need to talk to a coworker or get a cup of coffee. According to Garcia, even these small breaks in sedentary time can decrease health risks associated with sitting.

Is sitting at your desk all day the epitome of wellness? Definitely not. But as long as you don’t head home and crash on the couch immediately after, you could be doing worse.

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