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I’m old, sedentary and slouch a lot – will standing up at my desk help me live longer?


Today, I’m standing up in the office. Because Dr Keith Diaz says I’ll die if I don’t. Who’s he? An expert in behavioural medicine at Columbia University, and the co-author of a study that found that people need to sit less in order to live longer.

Moving around is important, too. Swapping 30 minutes of sedentary time over the course of a day for half an hour of low-intensity activity reduces the risk of death by 17%. Thirty minutes for 17%! That’s got to be worth a little wander, hasn’t it? I’ll start with a visit to my editor, to berate her for commissioning me by email, even though she sits approximately four metres away.

My existence is extremely sedentary. I sit – slouch – at a desk in front of a screen all day. Then I go home and sit, generally in front of a screen. Sometimes, I work at home and then I often do so – I’m ashamed to say this – in bed. There’s nothing in the survey about lying down all day, but I can’t believe it’s good. “Sitting is harmful, and is going to increase your risk [of death] no matter how you sit,” said Diaz.

Not only am I static, I’m old. I’m 53. The Columbia research was of people aged 45 and over. This is about people like me; people in danger. That’s why I’m standing in the office.

Yes, it feels a bit daft when everyone else is sitting down. No, I’m not going to make a speech; yeah laugh, but who’s going to die first?

The posture and physical ergonomics need fine-tuning. I have got my screen balancing on one pile of books, keyboard on another, mouse on a third. I’m going to find out who’s in charge of desks, and then I’m going to actually physically go and see them about getting one of those proper standy-uppy ones. Don’t forget that movement, remember?

But this is just about what it’s like to not sit down all day. And, you know what? It’s really not so hard. A touch of the museum/art gallery squirms creep in after two hours. But I’m finding I can shake them off by thinking of all the extra time I’ll be getting at the end.

Source: TheGuardian