WATCH | Why sitting down may not be as bad for you as you thought

Sitting is not the “new smoking”, according to an Australian study that found no link between total sitting time and an increased risk of diabetes. Reuters’ Amy Pollock reports.

Sitting down has a bad reputation – a sedentary lifestyle has been linked to heart disease, type two diabetes and cancer. But it may not be quite as bad for us as we thought. A study by Australia’s University of Sydney has found that inactivity alone does not lead to a higher incidence of diabetes.

“Lifestyle has many components, it’s not all about sitting. For a person who does a lot of exercise, perhaps sitting is of secondary importance,” Emmanuel Stamatakis, researcher, University of Sydney, saying.

The researchers tracked almost 5,000 middle-aged men over 13 years and looked at how often they spent sitting at work, during leisure time and watching TV. They found no link between sitting at work or home, and an increased risk of developing diabetes. And only a weak link between television-watching and diabetes, which they put down to social factors like poorer mental health or greater snacking. The study group of Londoners were on the move a lot, which researchers say could have made all the difference.

“We should not forget that the sample of our study were a group of office workers who were very physically active. They were walking for approximately 45 minutes per day. This is a lot of walking and it is perhaps that this high level of physical activity protected them against diabetes and this is why sitting seemed to matter less,” Stamatakis, saying.

So even sedentary office workers can counteract the heath risks of their jobs – by moving more.