back to article Sitting down all day is killing you

A study of more than 220,000 people aged 45 or more has come to a startling conclusion: sitting down all day is killing you. The 45 and Up study compared mortality rates among those who sit for many hours a day and those who spend less time perched on their posterior. The study used “... questionnaire data from 222 497 …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You can see the truth of this in old peoples' homes

    all day sitting down, 100% mortality rate

    1. I think so I am?

      Re: You can see the truth of this in old peoples' homes

      Being alive also has 100% mortality rate - funny that

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. DayDragon

          Re: You can see the truth of this in old peoples' homes

          Unless, by some chance you are immortal, then at some point in your life you will shuffle off this mortal coil we call life.

          1. Gordon 10

            Re: You can see the truth of this in old peoples' homes

            You have to be immortal and invunerable not to die, not just immortal. cf Highlander.

            cue Queen

        2. Aaron Em

          Re: You can see the truth of this in old peoples' homes

          "You're numbers" certainly is not correct!

          1. Ross 7

            Re: You can see the truth of this in old peoples' homes

            ""You're numbers" certainly is not correct!"

            Wait, what?! The Matrix *isn't* true?...

  2. c4m1k4z3
    Paris Hilton

    The Truth About Exercise

    Something similar was said on Horizon a few weeks back, I now stand up on all public transport (well, I wait for a nice lady to need a chivalrous gentlemen to offer her his seat)

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Truth About Exercise

      I agree, if anyone hasn't seen this, I think it may be still available on iPlayer, but well worth a look, going to start my 3 mins exercise a week.

    2. MrXavia

      Re: The Truth About Exercise

      Another chivalrous gentlemen, amazing,,,

      Now, how many times have you been slapped for offering your seat? or looked at funny for holding the door for a stranger?

      I always stand on short bus journeys, and always on the tube!

      1. Vic

        Re: The Truth About Exercise

        > Now, how many times have you been slapped for offering your seat?


        > or looked at funny for holding the door for a stranger?


        Most people I meet IRL recognise good manners, even if they don't possess them...


        1. Aaron Em

          Re: The Truth About Exercise

          Only place I've ever had good manners get me looked at funny was Boston, and anyone who's ever been to Boston knows that place is fucked anyway.

    3. a cynic writes...

      Re: The Truth About Exercise

      I knew I was getting old when, after one particularly knackering day at work, a young woman offered me *her* seat.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @a cynic writes

        The last time I was offered a yound ladies "seat" I had to marry her.

    4. Wize

      Re: The Truth About Exercise

      "I'd rather see a pregnant woman standing on the bus than a fat girl sitting down crying." - Jimmy Carr

    5. The Fuzzy Wotnot

      Re: The Truth About Exercise

      I always stand on public transport, I can't be arsed to fight over a bloody seat, life is too short for all that and getting shorter by the sounds of it!

    6. Neil Cooper

      Re: The Truth About Exercise

      Sorry but I believe in equality.

      Chivalry is a name women use to get you to do things for them.

      I'd give anyone my seat if I can see they have a need greater than me.

      But not just because they have a vagina.

      1. jukejoint

        Re: The Truth About Exercise

        Me too Neil. You are mannerly. I have given up my place to older men, or those with obvious heavy burdens - they always demur at first yet when I insist they are grateful for the rest.

  3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    BOFH fodder!

    "What's that? The server is down?

    I don't care mate. Mandatory health time for making coffee is NOW. Deal with it.

    What's that? Wait, I will transfer you to my union rep... that's better. Bye now."

    1. Graham Wilson

      @Destroy All Monsters -- Re: BOFH fodder! Another Guilt-Ridden edict, the latest in a long line.

      This Guilt-Ridden edict is the latest in a long line that goes back to at least the pilgrim fathers or the beginnings of protestantism, and it seems we can most likely blame it on Donald Rumsfeld. Not content with just warmongering--which you'd reckon ought to be enough for anyone--he's now convinced do-gooders we need to stand at our desks:

      What comes next? Will those who get back pain whilst standing then sue their employers for injury?

      Employers ought to opt for the sitting option. Productivity would not only be higher but also there'd be less lawsuits if employees actually drop dead whilst at their desks.

  4. toadwarrior

    I walk 2 miles a day (to and from work) and try to stand up and walk every 30 mins. I'm not entirely sure that will help counter my sitting job and going home and sitting in frony of the PS3 but I do make an attempt at improving my health.

  5. The BigYin

    How long before the lawsuits start?

    "My client passed away at 55. Being in IT they were required to sit long hours in front of a screen attempting to meet impossible deadlines. The stress of this, and the threats of outsourcing hanging over their head, brought on heart arrhythmia; the only late-night food the company would order was pizza or curry, leading to my client's obesity; and it was the blood clot from sitting for 12 hours straight they finally killed them, robbing their children of a loving parent. We are seeking £10 million in lost pay, compensation for stress/suffering and expenses."

    What about a tax break for companies that hire trainers/subsidise gyms or something? Or organise pre-work callisthenics? Although given the condition of some of my colleagues, seeing them mince around in gym-shorts is likely to induce nausea.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How long before the lawsuits start?

      Gyms should invest in secure cycle parking facilities for their members. The idea is that members cycle to the gym in the morning, shower there and then walk (the presumably short-ish) distance to the office. Gyms get more money plus opportunity to sell on personal training etc. and we get chance to get fit cycling to work without the joys of finding no wheels/saddle/bike when it comes to going home again.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Being in IT, they were neither attractive enough to have children, nor did they have the time.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sitting down all day is killing you

    One more reason to not get out of bed then.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sitting down all day is killing you

      And I thought this was just a gimmick

      It's obviously a new type of health club


  7. Number6

    More Tea!

    I learned many years ago that I fare better if I get up every half an hour or so. It gives me chance to relax my eyes and stretch muscles. Given the amount of tea I drink, there are other effects that pretty much force me to get up at regular intervals anyway.

    1. Jimbo 6

      Re: More Tea!

      I used to get up every half an hour or so, when I was a teenager. These days I really need Viagra.

  8. CT

    I was going to comment...

    ...but I've drunk so much tea I need to visit the euphemism.

    1. Aaron Em

      'I need to visit the euphemism'

      I'm half-inching that one for my own lexicon, if you don't mind. Nicely done.

  9. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Does going to the pub for a quick pint count?

    Sounds plausible, especially if we include earlier reports that beer is good for you.

    1. Robert E A Harvey

      Re: Does going to the pub for a quick pint count?

      No, but it sounds like a good idea. It's a half hour walk so by the time I've found my boots and locked the dogs in the shed, this is the time to set out.

      Thank you.

    2. Piro Silver badge

      Re: Does going to the pub for a quick pint count?

      Ah, I like where you're going with this one.

      If we then claim that having a pint or two may counter the effects of sitting down, we come to the startling conclusion that we should be drinking at work.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Does going to the pub for a quick pint count?

        Even better, if I stand next to the bar all day drinking I'll live forever right? Sold!


    3. Hardcastle the ancient

      Re: Does going to the pub for a quick pint count?

      Thank you Michael.

      I had a pint of Ufford Ales 'White hart' and very nice it was too:

  10. jake Silver badge

    No shit.

    This is news? Seriously?

    The mind boggles.

  11. Khaptain Silver badge

    Sitting down is for a reason

    * We only sit down all day because it is easier than typing when lying down.......

    * Coffee/tea mugs remain upright for longer on a desk..

    * The boss doesn't feel comfortable in delegating to someone wearing nothing but underwear.

    * Clients generally dont accept invitations in bedrooms.

    There is a also a statistic somewhere that proves that the more we breath the closer we are to death......

    1. Ken 16 Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Sitting down is for a reason

      "Clients generally dont accept invitations in bedrooms."

      I think that depends on what industry you're servicing.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Robert E A Harvey
      Paris Hilton

      * Clients generally dont accept invitations in bedrooms.

      You need better clients.

      1. Pete 2 Silver badge

        Re: * Clients generally dont accept invitations in bedrooms.

        > You need better clients.

        Or a better bedroom

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sitting down is for a reason

      "Clients generally dont accept invitations in bedrooms"

      On v.rare occasions it does help seal the deal though.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sitting down is for a reason

        Pretty much all my business is done in my bedroom.

        (Yay home office!)

  12. Tezfair


    I too saw that program and did an exercise, I did 12 minutes, that will do me for a month.

    I did read about a year ago, possibly on Wired about people reorganising their office to stand at their PC so clearly there are a lot of studies going on

    Before IT I worked in a factory for 16 years standing up and was reasonably fit. Came into IT and for the last 11 years have sat most of it. These days I can be on my chair from 8:30am until 11:30pm. During this time I hardly walk at all now im unfit as hell.

    Guess we have to start moving more during the day.

    I'll get my spandex

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: standing

      Get outside for at least 10minutes, no matter what the weather, it'll do you the world of good and help refresh your brain a little as well.

      Even if I'm not in the mood for a cig, I'll take a quick lap around the building grounds (note: does depend on the size of the building).

      It doesn't sound like much but keeps me sane.

  13. AndrueC Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I spend my lunch hour walking and during the summer walk for an hour in the evening as well. It helps relax me and clear my mind. Also good for weight control.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I take a walk at lunch time and also in the morning.

      If I leave home ten minutes later than usual I end up sat in traffic for half an hour on top of the 20 minute journey time so I set off early get a clear stress free drive and have a good walk before starting.

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Robert E A Harvey

      Re: I'm pretty sure...

      I just did a mandatory computer based "training module" suggesting that sort of thing. I got up and wandered off while the thing was still talking about it.

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: I'm pretty sure...

      I'm not sure about whether a guideline can require you to do anything, but H&S law in the UK means that employers have to tolerate staff taking the occasional break away from their desk and if you work in the sort of place where that's even remotely controversial then you owe it to your fellow slaves to make a point of taking the break so that everyone is equally lazy as far as management is concerned.

  15. Ken 16 Silver badge


    Didn't El Reg recently highlight the misuse of statistics?

    "40% higher than those who spend less time on their behinds. Even those who sit for just eight hours a day have a 15% “better” chance of death"

    What's the baseline for those percentages? Is it going from 71 people out of 100 will die to 100 out of 100 will people will die or from 7 out of 10,000,000 will die to 10 out of the same number dying? Is it better to get off your arse and jog in heavy traffic or bungee jump or will the dangers of those outweigh the benefits of being vertical?

    Finally, would you rather die comfortably in your seat during an 11 hour flight or climb out into the freezing waters of the North Atlantic?

    1. Some Beggar

      Re: Statistics

      If you click through to the summary of the study you get this:

      "During 621 695 person-years of follow-up (mean follow-up, 2.8 years), 5405 deaths were registered. All-cause mortality hazard ratios were 1.02 (95% CI, 0.95-1.09), 1.15 (1.06-1.25), and 1.40 (1.27-1.55) for 4 to less than 8, 8 to less than 11, and 11 or more h/d of sitting, respectively, compared with less than 4 h/d, adjusting for physical activity and other confounders. The population-attributable fraction for sitting was 6.9%."

      There's nothing on the proportions of the population who fall into each of the groups so there's not enough information to give an accurate estimate of actual risk. But the total population had a mortality rate of about 0.87% per year. A 40% increase would be about 1.2%, but the 40% is (as far as I can tell) the ratio above the portion of the population who sit for less than 4 hours a day rather than the entire population so the actual figure will be less than this.

      It's not enough to make me leap out of my chair and go for a jog.

  16. Bush_rat

    Easy Solution

    Power all computers by tredmill, then roster whose turn it is to go gerbil.

  17. Truffle

    Holy smokes

    I was so shocked my this article...

    I had to sit down.

  18. Red Bren

    Smoking is good for you

    Going for regular fag breaks will save your life? Guess I picked the wrong week to give up smoking...

  19. adnim

    I'm OK.

    I work from home and I sit at a PC all day. As I don't smoke in the house I have to get up and walk outside for a ciggie at regular intervals.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: I'm OK.

      So in your case, sitting down all day would be the healthier option.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Will standing at the bar save my life?

  21. Graham Wilson

    What's more risky--PC or iPod?

    What's more risky, sitting on your bum surfing the Internet or doing it on an iPod whilst obliviously walking across busy streets.

    Going by my vehicle's many recent close encounters of the iPod kind, I'll take the risk of sitting at my PC.

    (At least they'll be able to carry me off to the morgue in one piece instead of being washed off the roadway with a powerful hose.)

  22. Silverburn


    I cycle to my IT desk job 3x a week.

    So as well as spending 40 hours a week at a desk, I spend an additional 9 hours perched on the most uncomfortable seat on Earth, while my HR sits at 170+ bpm for at least a quarter of those.

    Am I doomed?

    1. Graham Wilson

      @silverburn -- Re: Cycling -- Probably, that's unless... take the Donald Rumsfeld option:

    2. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Re: Cycling

      Yer doomed, doomed, DOOOMED!!!!!

      Private Fraser

    3. Colin Millar

      Re: Cycling

      You may not be doomed but you are probably destined for a painful old age. And because you will have such a strong CV system it will probably be a long painful old age.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cycling

      > Am I doomed?

      Depends. Do you observe traffic signals?

      If so, you're the only $%^&ing commuter cyclist who does.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Thank goodness I'm only 44...

  24. Nick Wallis

    Am I that old?

    Guess I picked the wrong week to give up smoking...

    made me smile.

    Now, who wants a brew...

  25. NomNomNom

    Another reason it's a bad idea to sit still for extended periods of time is snipers. Did the researchers even rule out snipers as explaining the correlation?

  26. Kane

    Totally read the sub heading...

    with Arnie's accent.

  27. Melanie Winiger

    We should all take up smoking

    So we can get some regular exercise.


  28. TWB

    Remote support can be bad.

    As someone who *could* email or phone everyone I have to deal with at work, I make it a principle to get off my arse and go and see people at work - it has multiple benefits, not just health. Some issues are best seen first hand, and some issues need to be dealt with face to face and it is amazing how much better some people feel if they 'see someone' even when I don't sort out their problems - I just wish more of my colleagues would do this.

  29. Julius Deane

    Or you could just

    Walk outside for a smoke every hour or so. Bet you'd live longer...

  30. JimM

    Lie down instead!

    The way I interpret the article, it is specifically sitting down, in a chair, that's bad for you and not inactivity in general. Chairs constrict your motion, where as lying down or sitting on the ground allow you to move more freely.

  31. Anonymous Coward 15


    You're all going to die. It might be cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or the number 72 bus. You cannot eliminate all risk, nor should you want to- what would life be with neither work, nor rest, nor play?

    40% on top of something small, is still pretty small.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Newsflash

      Speak for your self, I intend to live forever. It's working out fine so far....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Newsflash

        Sounds like a plan!

        I for one intend on visiting the Moon, Mars, the rings of Saturn, Jupiter's moons and after that i'll take a break and see where too next!

        Of course i'll probably work myself to death trying to pay for it!

  32. Werner McGoole

    Yes, living a good life is pretty dangerous

    It's only better to stop and make tea if tea-making is safe. Have you studied the statistics for tea-related mortality (or even just burning yourself on the kettle)? Enquiring minds need to know these things.

    If things go on like this, we'll soon be doing nothing but running around (assuming running is proved safe) to find the least-hazardous activity at each point in the day and never achieving anything. Remember that quite a few important break-thoughs in science have required substantial personal risk-taking. Marie Curie and Benjamin Franklin spring immediately to mind.

    We all know you don't get anywhere by never taking risks. I think this sort of study is now showing that you can never enjoy yourself without taking risks either.

  33. Triggerfish

    Years ago a plumber to our offices removed a load of sludge from the botttom of blocked urinal pipes, he claimed it was basically the same stuff that formed kidney stones and that he always saw it in offices were people sat down a lot as not moving around never got the kidneys working properly.

    Dont know how true that is, but just from things like general fitness I notice a big difference from a job where you sit all day to one where you are just doing things like walking around a lot between offices.

    1. Some Beggar


      Do you take all your medical advice from a bloke who cleans piss troughs for a living?

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: @Triggerfish

        No which is why it also says I don't know how true that is. Try reading it fully.

        As for walking between offices sorry was just being generalistic, I happened to work for some small teams and could never see the point of playing the manager who sits on his arse when I could be helping people shift stuff that needed shifting

    2. MahFL22

      Someones not runing a bussiness correctly if all their employees spend a lot of their time just "walking" between offices.

  34. mark 63 Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    i counter this problem by lying on the couch all night

  35. MahFL22

    I can go for several walks around the bulding each day, which sure helps "butt ache".

  36. CraigW

    but I just sat down

    aw man, I only just got sat down as well.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So getting up and going outside for a fag is good for you!


    (Someone might need to translate this for the colonials.)

  38. MahFL22

    An ex boss of minje used a homemade desk to standup and use his laptop on, he said it helped his bad back. I guess after a few weeks your legs would get used to it.

  39. RegW

    You don't scare me

    Get your own bloody tea

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was probably healthier when I smoked

    ...and, working in a non-smoking office meant going outside for every puff.

    Even better when the building managers banned smoking outside the main door, and we had to walk up and down the street.

    Heyho ... I'll go and make that cup of tea.

  41. Stefing

    I would if I could

    I have Degenerative Disc Disease - so more than the slightest bit of exercise isn't really an option.

    But HEY! Thanks for reminding me that not only am I in near-constant pain but that my life expectancy is also impacted.

  42. b166er

    Guess I picked the wrong week to quit amphetamines.


    I've had a standing desk for just over a month now and I'm really liking it. I've got a high-lift gas chair, you know, like the lab ones, under it too for the occasional perch. It's probably reversed the standing/sitting ratio and I can now sit down in the evening and feel like I've taken the weight off my feet.

    I recommend it.

  43. Triggerfish

    @Some Beggar


    So Plumber claims gunk that blocks urinal pipes is congealed urea, often found in offices where people sit a lot, and is basically the sort of stuff that forms kidney stones.

    Quick google seems to say there is a link between being sedentary and kidney stones.

    article you are posting on is about health risks of sitting down.

    Maybe plumber did have a better undertsaning of the renal sytem than you after all.

    1. Some Beggar

      Re: @Some Beggar

      If it's being pissed into the urinal then it isn't forming kidney stones.

      Your plumber knows nothing about medicine. You are an idiot if you take seriously any sort of medical advice from a plumber. Herp derp. Herp di derp derp.

  44. FunkyEric

    In Germany

    I saw these rather funky electric height adjustable desks you could sit or stand at depending on your mood. Always thought they were a wonderful idea, but then they also had massive amounts of space per person compared to the pitiful conditions we have to work in here in the UK. Oh and a vending machine that dispensed beer. :-) In the office. Honest!

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Go ahead without me, save yourselves, it's too late for me...

  46. BlinkenLights

    Lying Down?

    If sitting down all day is bad for you, what about lying down for 8 hours every night? It's got to be even worse, surely?

  47. npo4

    Well, guess I'm gonna die sooner then...

  48. John 48

    Is there any chance we could have some stats reporting that actually means something?

    I do get fed up with all these reports that say "doing x means y is 40% more likely to happen", but then give you no clue whatsoever as the likelihood of y happening if you don't do x!

    How do I know if I should be worried about a 40% increased risk in something without, knowing what the baseline risk was in the first place?

  49. daveeff

    standing desk

    My company (v. afraid of being sued) gave me a desk I can stand up at (motorized! at who knows what cost!). They also gave me two mains sockets.

    The fact I have 4 computers, 2 printers, a sep scanner, serial / usb / parrallel, cat5 mains cables (12+) means raising and lowering the desk is not really an option.


    1. Some Beggar

      Re: standing desk

      Have you thought about asking your employer why they've arranged the office such that all that crap needs to be on your desk?

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