sitting workplace wellness

Study Ties Sitting to Mortality Risk

A key goal of any well-run workplace wellness program is to help manage chronic disease. As we’ve reported, well-run workplace wellness programs still would be well-advised to focus on a straight-forward workplace activity: Movement.

One study titled “Work-related correlates of occupational sitting in a diverse sample of employees in Midwest metropolitan cities” and published in Preventive Medicine Reports was generated because, “The worksite serves as an ideal setting to reduce sedentary time. Yet little research has focused on occupational sitting, and few have considered factors beyond the personal or socio-demographic level. The current study i) examined variation in occupational sitting across different occupations, ii) explored whether worksite level factors (e.g., employer size, worksite supports and policies) may be associated with occupational sitting.”

Now a new study ties sitting to mortality risk: “Excessive sedentary time is ubiquitous in Western societies. Previous studies have relied on self-reporting to evaluate the total volume of sedentary time as a prognostic risk factor for mortality and have not examined whether the manner in which sedentary time is accrued (in short or long bouts) carries prognostic relevance,” write the authors of the study titled “Patterns of Sedentary Behavior and Mortality in U.S. Middle-Aged and Older Adults: A National Cohort Study” in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

MedPage Today reports: “Sitting more than half the day, regardless of how much exercise people got otherwise, was associated with increased risk of all-cause mortality in a large prospective study of middle-aged and older adults in the U.S.”

“Those spending more than 12.5 hours of sedentary time per day with bout duration of more than 10 minutes had the highest risk for all-cause mortality,” said researchers led by Keith M. Diaz, PhD, of Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.

Dr. Diaz told MedPage Today: “The simple, straightforward implication is that excessive sedentary time may be a toxic, hazardous behavior and that regardless of whether a person exercises on a given day, they still need to be mindful of how much time they spend sedentary outside their exercise time. If you have a job or lifestyle where you have to sit for prolonged periods, our findings suggest that taking a movement break every half hour could reduce your risk of death.”

The study adds importance to the program design of a well-run workplace wellness program and the implementation of physical activity.

The authors conclude: “Both the total volume of sedentary time and its accrual in prolonged, uninterrupted bouts are associated with all-cause mortality, suggestive that physical activity guidelines should target reducing and interrupting sedentary time to reduce risk for death.”