Sitting or Standing Too Long Could Cause Early Death. Walking for 2 Minutes Can Offset the Risk.

Beverley Goodwin / Flickr

Walk — it could save your life.

A new study finds that a brief walk around the office can offset the mortality risk of sitting or standing for extended periods of time. The large scale study, which was recently published in Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, found that people who performed at least light activity for 2 minutes each hour cut premature death by 33%.

It’s well known that desk-chained jobs are associated with heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and joint pain. Indeed, there is an entire industry of office supplies, from exercise ball chairs to mechanical standing desks, which promise to relieve the pain.

It turns out that unless we’re moving our entire bodies, any extended sedentary activity is associated with an early death. That’s especially bad news for folks who have shelled out thousands of dollars on expensive standing desks.

The study is valuable mostly because it followed a rather large cohort of 3,626 participants who voluntarily tracked their movement with a health monitor (like a Fitbit).

The researchers were able to see that regular vigorous activity wasn’t any more beneficial than a light lollygag around the office. All that mattered was that participants were moving.

It’s worth noting that not dying may not be your own health goal. For those trying to slim down or improve their focus throughout the day, regular vigorous activity does help — a lot. I’ve found that 30 seconds of high-intensity exercise gives me the same cognitive boost as a cup of coffee.

Or, even better, get a treadmill desk.


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