Throw Away Your Standing Desk! Sitting Won’t Kill You (Maybe)

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Sorta transcript:

Hey, people like me who basically sit on our asses all day, I have good news and I have bad news. First the good! Remember all those reports that came out in the past few years saying that sitting too much is going to lead to your untimely death? And how that would be really tragic because the obituary will just be like, “She died doing what she loved. Sitting.” And meanwhile, your great great grandfather died standing up, swinging a pickaxe in a coal mine, the way god intended. If ghosts existed, he would be so, so disappointed in you.

Well, a new study seems to show that those previous studies were bullshit and that standing at your stupid trendy standing desk for 8 hours isn’t going to save your pathetic life, after all, so you may as well have a seat.

So is this newer study better than all those other studies that it contradicts? Well, yes and no. No, in that it involved fewer people, though it’s still a good amount: about 5,000 people were tracked for 16 years. The biggest previous study that it contradicts tracked 123,000 people for 14 years.

But yes, in that this one didn’t just look at sitting versus standing — it looked at overall physical activity.

And that’s where the bad news comes in. Yes, you can sit down at work and not be any worse off than if you were just standing there. But this study reinforces previous research saying that the key to not dying from laziness is to be as physically active as you can. You know what that means: prepare for all your standing desks to be converted into treadmill desks.

The even worse news is that this research emerges at around the same time as another study suggesting that the current recommendation that you do 30 minutes of exercise a day may be off by just a bit, and that you should actually be exercising for, say, an hour or two.

I know. You weren’t even hitting the recommended 30, and now you learn that it’s not good enough.

OK, well, the slightly not-so-bad news is that 30 minutes of exercise does help you not die from heart disease. It’s just that the positive effects of exercise increased dramatically the more people exercised. Or at least, the more people throughout a 14-year study claimed they exercise, so maybe it’s just that being a good liar is good for your heart.

Anyway, I’ve taken all this news to heart and so I’ll no longer be delivering these videos sitting in front of the camera. I’ll be jogging on this treadmill.

Still hoping that lying is good for the heart.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon mstdn.social/@rebeccawatson Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky @rebeccawatson.bsky.social

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One Comment

  1. Awww, transcript says ” jogging on this treadmill” so I clicked through hoping for a fail moment. Instead it’s actually “maybe I’ll get a treadmill”.

    I think first you should research treadmill injuries and tell us whether it’s safer to use one than not.

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