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Sitting all day isn’t as bad as you think

Forget everything you’ve heard about sitting being the new smoking: There’s something far worse for your health than a desk and chair.

I’m betting a gazillion standing desks were snatched up the day news broke that sitting for too long at work is just as hazardous to your health as smoking cigarettes. But new research shows that standing for long periods of time at those awesome ergonomic standing desks may be just as bad as sitting in a chair — because we’re all missing the point and ignoring one of the most crucial components needed to achieve good health.

According to a study published Tuesday from Great Britain’s University of Exeter and University College London, the problem isn’t sitting — it’s the fact that some of us aren’t getting enough exercise.

Maybe you’re thinking: Oh no, are we back to this same old issue? How many more times do we need to be told we should be walking, playing tennis or doing Pilates to decrease our risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other health problems? I guess until we truly understand, the answer is more simple than we realize: Researchers say the root cause of health issues associated with a sedentary lifestyle can happen whether we’re sitting or standing for too long, unless we balance out our lives with activity.

More: Too much sitting raises cancer risk for women far more than men

Melvyn Hillsdon, a study author from University of Exeter had this to say about the new findings: “Our study overturns current thinking on the health risks of sitting and indicates that the problem lies in the absence of movement rather than the time spent sitting itself. Any stationary posture where energy expenditure is low may be detrimental to health, be it sitting or standing.”

Researchers followed 5,000 people over 16 years, tracking their sitting time and activity. At the end of the day, they discovered there was no correlation between sitting and mortality risk — though it should be mentioned that participants were mostly white-collar workers in London whose daily commutes featured some element of walking or biking.

More: The only 7 abs exercises you need

More research still needs to be done on sitting and its effect on health, so we shouldn’t dismiss all previous studies and claims just yet. But, there isn’t a single study on earth that is going to suggest daily exercise is anything but beneficial, no matter how many hours a day you’re forced to sit in front of a computer. Sometimes the solution really is that simple.

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