Standing up for a longer life

Published 12 May 2014

We have some bad news for you… Are you sitting down? Well, if you are, you’re dying fast!

Even if you’re fit and active, sitting at a desk for hours on end, in front of the key-board or watching TV is shaving years off your life.

UNE Associate Professor of Psychology John Malouff says our sitting habit could be as toxic as smoking with a desk-job potentially shortening life expectancy by more than five years.

“Whether you are sitting at the computer, in front of the television, or commuting to work, sitting still for long hours has been shown to be detrimental to a long life.”

“Even if you exercise every day and eat a healthy balanced diet, the fact is that the more you sit, the shorter your lifespan is likely to be.”

The UNE research team led by Professor Malouff is now investigating how easy – or difficult – it can be for people already interested in improving their standing health, to do so.

“We’re looking for volunteers to take part in a study examining what works and what doesn’t for improving people’s standing to sitting ratio.”

“We’ll provide advice and supporting materials and all we ask is that participants fill out some brief questionnaires two weeks apart.”

He says the sitting habits of a lifetime can be very difficult to break, even when the workplace is supportive.

“We’ve seen companies like Google changing the standard design of their workstations to incorporate more standing and several of my colleagues here at the University of New England have installed standing/sitting desks in our workspaces.

“But in the main, this phenomenon is slow to take off, because it can be extremely difficult to change the habits acquired during an entire career.”

As part of the study, University of New England researchers are offering free advice to help people stand comfortably longer, all in the interests of understanding what it takes for us to kick our sitting habit.

Anyone can participate in the study by registering at  http://tinyurl.com/standup4health