Sitting All Day Will Kill You, But A 2-Minute Walk Could Change That

New research: Breaking up your sedentary day with some light activity can prolong your life.

Sitting All Day Will Kill You, But A 2-Minute Walk Could Change That
[Photo: Flickr user Tamaki Sono]

Are you sitting down?


No, I’m not about to deliver kick-to-the-gut, shocking news. But it might get you on your feet, if you know what’s good for you.

Standing up and walking around for even two minutes every hour can help offset the life-shortening effects of sitting all day, according to a new study in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Results of the study, conducted by researchers at the University Of Utah School Of Medicine, say that taking a break from sitting for just two minutes of “light-intensity activity” like standing or walking around results in a 33% lower risk of the untimely death that we’re all told we’re doomed to experience if we keep sitting down all day.

Researchers at the University of Utah analyzed data from 3,626 participants in the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to ascertain the impact of low-intensity activity on the health of both the general population and those with chronic kidney disease. These participants all spent at least half of their time in a sedentary state.

“Our findings suggest that replacing sedentary duration with an increase in light activity might confer a survival benefit,” said Dr. Srinivasan Beddhu, the lead researcher on the study.

For years, scientists have warned us with increasing urgency of the risks of sitting too much, but lately the news seems to get more dire sounding with each new headline. Sitting isn’t just bad for you, it’s the new smoking! It will kill you! Not even rigorous exercise will undo the damage wrought by our sedentary lifestyles. If you sit a lot, you’re doomed.


The ominous warnings have inspired a whole mini-industry dedicated to peddling alternatives to sitting down. Standing desks. Treadmill desks. Exercise ball chairs. If you can both tolerate and afford a standing desk, it seems like the most foolproof way to eliminate the risks of sitting (by eliminating the sitting all together). But this new research suggests that such measures might not be totally necessary to stave off the harmful effects of sitting.

Instead, something as simple as getting up and walking around the office every two minutes can undo harmful effects.

There are other ways to squeeze light physical activity into your day. Need to meet one-on-one with somebody at 2 p.m.? You can always pull a Steve Jobs and invite them on a brief walking meeting. Recent studies show that walking can have a positive effect on creativity, so why not give it try? It just might help you live longer.

[via NPR]

About the author

John Paul Titlow is a writer at Fast Company focused on music and technology, among other things.