back to article Too much sitting can kill: Official

Swedish scientists have warned that too much sitting on your backside can provoke cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. That's pretty obvious, you might think, but the researchers from the Karolinska Institute and the Swedish School of Sport and Health warn that the excessively sedentary are running serious risks, …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward



    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Clarificaton required

      Is that a comment on the article or an exclamation due the sudden realisation that you've got to get off your butt and move about it?

      1. ravenviz Silver badge


        I've only just realised that Anonymous Coward is not an actual person.

    2. cockneydave


      Beware the evils of cycling and rowing

      1. Asgard

        @"Beware the evils of cycling and rowing"

        As I have a desk job, I would love to cycle to work. Just one thing stopping me. The fear of near instant death as I pass under the wheels of a lorry at 30MPH on the A roads to work, which cannot be avoided with back roads (which are all dead ends). For a few weeks, I tried my best to cycle to work. Never again. My favourite experience was having to quickly pull into a petrol station because the car at the side of my decided to turn quickly without actually checking if a bike was there!. Thankfully I realised what the moron was doing, because I was watching out for nutters. Then there was the car that over took me at speed and then instantly tried to pull in, break and park!. Just as well my breaks could match his, otherwise I would have been into the back of him. As it was, I was on one wheel breaking so hard to try to stop in time. For that one I got the immortal words, "sorry". Unfortunately I'm not immortal so no way will I try again. Its not as if my roads are particularly fast. A cyclist can usually easily beat the cars stuck in the heavy traffic that is just about everywhere these days.

        Its extremely dangerous on the roads and no cheap way to create safe cycle lanes, (and they won't spend the money) which would actually help the health of so many people around the country, if only many more people could cycle safely to work.

        I drive now, and I watch out for bikes. They rarely try the same trip twice and within a few weeks everyone gives up. There are no regular cyclists around that way. Wonder why. :(

  2. Anonymous Coward

    "It is important to have a five minute break from desk work every 45 minutes"

    So in balance is my 5 minute ciggi break good for me or not?!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    My cigarette breaks are not so bad for me after all.

    1. Peter Williams 2

      So reading this is actually dangerous!

      I allways felt it was a bit 'on the edge'


      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Well, duh

        If it feels on the edge it may help if you sit back a little..

  4. Andus McCoatThen

    In other news, Swedish Scientists discover...

    That water is wet, Ikea makes the best combination food and furniture store, and that breathing oxygen is beneficial to continued health.

    Mine's the one with the Captain Obvious logo on the back.

  5. mafoo


    “One study compared two groups of sedentary office workers, one of whom had regular breaks to move around while the other remained sitting for up to eight hours a day. The group that had the breaks had better blood lipid levels and blood glucose and less obesity.”

    Most normal scientists would read those results as: 'Taking regular breaks from work improves your health and reduces risk of serious disease'. Then again, these are Sports 'scientists'.

  6. Test Man


    They said a break, not a cigarette break.

  7. Mark Rendle


    Swedish scientists have discovered that any article starting with the words "Swedish scientists" will be 75% bobbins, with the remaining 25% made up of conjunctions and prepositions.

  8. Psmiffy

    Why is it then ...

    that it's totally acceptable for people to havea smoke break every 45 minutes or so but if I as a non smoker gets up and walks around for 5 minutes I get looks of death thrown my way?

    1. Richard 81

      Question of perspective

      A sports scientist would regard being active as a ground state, since that's what they do, so sitting around all day is bad because it makes you less healthy than at the ground state.

      A regular scientist would regard a sluggish office life as the ground state, since that's what most people do, so getting up for tea (and I suppose fag) breaks is good because it makes you healthier than at the ground state.

      I would tend to take the second of those two perspectives.

      Also, anyone with a degree in sports science... you have a degree in P.E. so shut up.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Not everywhere

      This "new swedish stuff" has been known for some time.

      The health and safety at work self-assessment software I wrote for my previous employer automatically flagged anyone who sat on his bottom for more than 45 minutes at a time for the attention of his manager and HR so that they have a conversation that he/she has to get of their bottoms and at least walk to the watercooler. This in fact is a standard part of most H&S manuals nowdays.

      So if someone gives you a look of death it is an HR incident in the making (and rightfully so).

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        HR incident?

        "it is an HR incident in the making"

        What type? The BOFH type, the "I lost my rag and he/she/it several teeth" type (not advisable) or "I had a serious moan and they listened sympathetically and nothing changed worth f*ck" version?

        I see the latter happen a lot, which is why an email track record is always fun - it makes them nervous in the same way that a line manager gets nervous when you casually ask him for a quick email to confirm you should bill the customer for time you didn't work on their project, reversing your own (ethically correct) decision not to do so.

    3. Ihre Papiere Bitte!!
      Thumb Down

      Every HOW LONG??

      "Why is it then that it's totally acceptable for people to havea smoke break every 45 minutes or so but if I as a non smoker gets up and walks around for 5 minutes I get looks of death thrown my way?"

      As a smoker, I call shenanigans on this one - though it's a commonly-held belief that this is the case. Before work, lunch, after work, and that's it - so about every 4 hours, and within the remit of the same break times as non-smokers. Unless your boss is a smoker as well, forget it, you don't get any bonus breaks - and I get the piss taken if it's raining / snowing / windy etc.

      Except at lunch, every time I have to go outside the building, I consipicuously leave my smokes on my desk to prevent the hassle of accusations of "unauthorised breaks".

      (And this has been the case across my last three employers, over the last 10 years or so.)

      And no, I don't want extra breaks over my less-smelly colleagues. I choose to smoke, and I do so within my own time - not my employer's.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      Wait what


    5. Bassey

      Re: Why is it then

      "that it's totally acceptable for people to havea smoke break every 45 minutes or so but if I as a non smoker gets up and walks around for 5 minutes I get looks of death thrown my way?"

      Erm, because you work with a bunch of fucking morons?

      Smoking breaks must be made up for after work here. You are allowed one break in the morning and another in the afternoon. Everyone who smokes must add 20 minutes to the end of their working day. And our CEO is a smoker! To be honest, the idea of going an hour without a cuppa abhors me. And all that tea makes toilet breaks pretty frequent too. So, with the kitchen being the other side of the office and the toilet being upstairs I'm pretty much the picture of perfect health!

      Anyway, either this study or the reporting of it makes no sense. The example given was not related to the general thrust of the report. The report was that, no matter how much exercise you take, sitting is still always bad for you. The study used only people who didn't exercise so the conclusion was nonsense. There needed to be a third group who also sat around all day but, in their spare time, ran marathons or did triathalons or something.

      1. ravenviz Silver badge

        Yes they do

        It's called Fød though.

    6. AndrueC Silver badge

      Change your job

      If you get 'looks of death' from colleagues then raise it with your line manager or HR bod. It sounds to me like your place of work needs to be brought into the 21st century.

      FWIW although I don't habitually get up every hour I /do/ make a point of leaving the office at lunch time and I spend an hour walking around outside. It's a bit of pain because it's mostly countryside and at this time of year the paths can be muddy. Those of you working in more typical urban areas should have no difficulty wandering around.

      I do find it helps me clear my mind and get a second wind for the afternoon though. If you prefer to sleep through your day you might want to stay seated :)

    7. Anonymous Coward


      Sarcasm understanding %ICON%

    8. Lionel Baden


      I can smoke when i like here and non smokers can get up when they like and stretch their legs

      funnily enough i hardly smoke during the day anymore :/

      Never had a problem smoking at a job. never had somebody bitch at me about smoking taking up time.

      Technically if it was a problem i would just state if i dont smoke my work would suffer.

      looks to me like your bosses are complete assholes.

      Dammit i need a smoke now

      brb 5 min

    9. ravenviz Silver badge


      breathing oxygen is really bad for you

  9. Karl H

    oh well ....

    I've I've ..........

    (he's just had a heart attack , this comment was finished by a colleage . RIP Karl H )

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    That's good advice

    I'll use the stairs instead of the lift.

    Oh, I forgot -- we don't have a lift.

    It comes as quite a surprise because I'd never think of picking up the phone to talk to somebody in the same building -- but I know plenty of people who do.

    1. Bassey

      Re: Good advice

      > I'd never think of picking up the phone to talk to somebody in the same building

      Surely that depends on the size of the building? I've worked ten floors away from colleagues. Yes, I have been known to walk the ten flights (actually, 20 flights - 2 per floor) but if you do it too often you'll end up a sweaty, panting mess and be accused of wasting time.

  11. Rob 5


    It seems that Staney Green was on to something after all!

  12. David John Walsh

    Well im royally then

    being wheelchair bound*

    *Medical condition, not lard arse, well ok these days that too - but thats only cos of being stuck in the chair - what came first - the arse or the chair!

  13. Anonymous Coward


    i suppose you'll just have to choose between looks of death, and actual death by lung cancer.. hard choice maybe.

  14. ian 22

    RE: That's good advice

    So is IM'ing someone down the hall better or worse that phoning? Will my lipid levels detect the difference?

  15. Dave 142


    you'll get piles too and they're truly awful

    1. Asgard

      @"you'll get piles too and they're truly awful"

      So you get that too?

      I know its not nice to talk about it, but when I stay seated at my desk for too long, I can't seem to avoid it, I get piles brought to me to work on.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    of course

    > I'd never think of picking up the phone to talk to somebody in the same building

    of course not ... that's what email is for

  17. alyn


    Should suffer less from farmer giles (piles) as well. Too much sitting can really be a pain in the ar$e.

    The beer icon cos beer keeps you regular

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cancer From Sitting

    Testicular cancer - it happens and is no fun.

    Be very careful how you are sitting. Be sure that you are not overly cramped.

    Movement is very helpful and important. Even standing up regularly can help.

  19. zanto

    this is more serious than it seems

    think about it, even those who exercise regularly but still spend a lot of time on their bums are potentially in for a nasty surprise.

    my "expert" advice would be, to drink around 1-2 liters of water while at work, that way you at least need to take a piss break regularly.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Laziness kills

    I agree with everything they have said - maybe I am missing the sarcasm in some of the responses here but as someone who is a team leader (I hate the expression) of a load of 'helpdesk like' staff - I do my best to encourage them to go and see people when calls come in [internal ones smart arse...]

    Some of them will never get off their fat arses. They are the miserable single fat ones who are losing any social skills they might have once had. I get exarsperated when I see someone finish a bottle of coke and they are too PFL to walk over to the recycling bin (50 meters) when there is an ordinary one at arms length.

    Maybe this is a good thing as they will die early and leave more in the retirement fund for the rest of us.

  21. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Trains, planes and automobiles

    Well, trains, planes, buses and taxis really. Get up and have a walk around is fine in principle, but not always in practice. Not when the boss-man has a whip and is more interested in profit than health, and baying customers are just the same in putting themselves as a priority.

    Prolonged standing can have nasty side effects, so it's hard to know what to do these days, what an ideal balance is - Regular cartwheeling heralded as miracle cancer cure ?

    Mine's the one with the chocolate biscuits and two king-size burgers in the pocket.

  22. jai

    have a break....

    so if i spend 5 minutes every hour having a KitKat then i'll avoid being obese? awesome!!

  23. David Simpson 1

    Now With Less Obesity!!

    "and less obesity"

    Yes obesity tends to gather underneath my chair when I sit for a while, I just try not to put my foot in it don't want to be infected.

  24. 100113.1537

    So what?

    “One study compared two groups of sedentary office workers, one of whom had regular breaks to move around while the other remained sitting for up to eight hours a day. The group that had the breaks had better blood lipid levels and blood glucose and less obesity.”

    Which would be relevant if blood lipid levels, blood glucose and obesity actually had anything to do with your health! All of these are referred to as risk factors because if you try to correlate them (or the actual study) with death rates you find nothing significant. Google "obesity paradox" and find out that people classed as obese live as long classed as normal and longer than those classed as underweight. Being "overweight" actually has the least chance of dying according to CDC figures for all deaths in the US.

  25. JaitcH

    What about cycling?

    I ride a bicycle, seated, so what is the benefits - if any?

  26. Pigeon

    Is this a new category of joke?

    Swedish Scientists have discovered that Confucius has the patent on that one.

  27. Ned Leprosy

    Everything gives you cancer

    ... including cancer.

    Er anyway. I had this bright idea last year of a "desk bar": raise my desk to bar height and stand up instead! I spent enough time propping up the bar in my youth, so "how hard could it be" etc. After trying it for a month, I was no healthier, had lost no weight and knackered a knee that took nearly a year to stop moaning about its feat of endurance (oh, the temptation to make a bad pun is killing me).

    Now I think I'll take my chances and sit down. Though I probably do get up once every 45 minutes to wander to the fridge to find a nice lump of lard to snack on. Mmm.

    1. ravenviz Silver badge
      Thumb Up


      You actually can get adjustable desks precisely for the purpose of standing to work.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Lack of Causation

    I love the way the study neatly sidesteps causality. They assume that getting up and walking around every now and again makes you healthier, without considering whether being less healthy makes you less likely to get up and walk around. The difference is very key. It might be that lard-arses can't be bothered to get off their fat arse and walk around, rather than that getting off your far arse is actually good for you.

    Yet another pseudo-science study by social scientists who haven't even taken basic statistics for beginners.

  29. Anonymous Coward


    "Dr Elin Ekblom-Bak..."

    In Norwegian, "bak" can mean "behind", but this joke isn't portable to Swedish.

    "The solution is, Ekblom-Bak explained, to get up off your backside. He stressed:"

    Is Elin a man's name in Sweden now?

  30. Davey Bee

    Breaks from the PC

    Well I'll be OK, then. I get up every hour or so to raid the fridge

  31. Damian Skeeles
    Thumb Up

    Stand for Swedes

    No-one's mentioned that many Swedes actually stand at their desk.

    I worked at a company where they did these. The staff had big workbench-style desks with electric motors that can change to a height suitable for using a chair or standing.

    Sounds weird to stand at your desk, but it was a welcome change - it's comfortable for at least an hour, and then you can lower the desk and sit for a while.

  32. Don Buchholz

    not just Swedes -- Canadians, too. -- see pg. 9-10.

    Top of page 10: " ... tracked a representative sample of 17,000 Canadian adults who took part in a 1981 national Fitness Survey." Guess I'd better get off those bar stools and start standing!

  33. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  34. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: lol

    We'll wait with bated, mint-smelling breath, Lionel.

  35. EvilGav 1

    Study is flawed . . .

    . . . they look at two groups that would give them an expected outcome (one already sedentary and one not). Factor in that obesity doesn't happen in short timescales and the conclusion was inevitable.

    To reach a viable conclusion the study would need to be conducted over a considerably longer time period.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    bring me a cup of coffee, please.

    I can't get up right now.

  37. Frank Silbermann

    All a big misunderstanding

    It's not a danger of death from "too much _sitting_" -- this was all a misunderstanding due to a typographical error in which a single letter was dropped.

    The original research was about dysentery.

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