In the last few years, a number of studies have proclaimed that sitting is bad for our health and that no amount of time at the gym can undo the damage caused by too much time on our derrières. Standing desks emerged as the antidote to our evil office chairs, and people began stressing about how much time they spent sitting every day.
Recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) updated its exercise guidelines, and it all comes down to one simple point.
"Adults should move more and sit less throughout the day. Some physical activity is better than none. Adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity gain some health benefits."
HHS recommends adults get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise.
A previous study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology preaches the same message.
The problem is lack of movement. Simply standing isn't the solution; we need to find ways to add more motion to our day.
The study was the result of 16 years of health data from more than 5,100 London-based government employees who answered questions about the amount of time they spent sitting at work and at home as well as the amount of time they spent walking or exercising.
The conclusion of the study was that more time sitting was not necessarily linked to a higher risk for dying. Even after researchers controlled for age, gender, diet, overall health, and socioeconomic status, there was no link between sitting and death.
But what is harmful to our health? Lack of movement. Oftentimes, that goes hand-in-hand with too much sitting. But the point is that simply taking standing breaks throughout the day is not going to protect your health. Nor will that lovely and expensive standing desk. It may feel good as a means to stretch your back, but it's not going to make you any healthier.
Instead, researchers urge folks not to focus on standing more, but to find ways to move more throughout the day.
Don't fear your chair. In fact, you can even use it to add more exercise to your day. How? Try these five exercises.
Editor's note: This article has been updated since it was originally published in October 2015.