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Why sitting down at work is bad for your health — and other health news

Woman sitting at desk
Is sitting at work bad for your health? Here's what you should know. (Getty Creative)

You may think you need to overhaul your health with a (questionable at best) juice cleanse or extreme exercise program in order to see real progress. Not so! New research suggests there are simple ways to improve your life, like moving more during your work day — or at least not sitting at your desk quite so much, which we know can be detrimental to our health.

These simple lifestyle shifts can have major benefits (like, say, reducing your risk of death) and you don't even need to pay for an expensive personal trainer or clean a juicer. Here's what to know.

SIT LESS…to reduce your risk of death

Office jobs may make sitting inevitable, but according to research, prolonged time sitting is also terrible for your health. Now there's more evidence to help get you moving: A study of more than 481,000 people published this week in JAMA Network Open found that those who spent most of their time sitting at work had a 16% higher chance of dying from any cause, and a 34% greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. This was true even after the researchers factored in age, gender, education, smoking, drinking and body weight.

This research follows a January 2023 study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, a journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, which found that uninterrupted sitting time can be bad for your health. But you don’t have to quit your desk-bound job in favor of something more physical in order to avoid physical health pitfalls. The researchers of this new study also found that people who spend a lot of time sitting at work can reduce the increased risk of death by adding just 15 to 30 minutes of physical activity each day.

Another suggestion, from the researchers, is to break up the amount of time you spend sitting at work in general. For office dwellers, you can take a walk outside or even around your office while on a call, or pace the office a few times once an hour. (Just give your co-workers the heads up as to why you’re doing it!) If your office allows it, a standing desk or even a treadmill desk can help you avoid sitting while on the job.

WORK OUT WITHOUT YOUR SPOUSE…to achieve better results

Do you work out with your spouse? A surprising new study found that there may be some drawbacks to sweating it out with your significant other as an older adult.

The study, which followed 240 married adults ages 54 to 72 from Singapore, found that couples who exercised together had lower step counts than individuals who exercised alone. The research suggests that it may be better for older adults to avoid changing the dynamics of their long-standing relationships by taking on a new exercise routine. In other words, if you want to give Pilates a whirl, try it solo.

TAKE A MULTIVITAMIN…to improve your memory

It can be hard to remember to take your daily multivitamin … and ironically, it may be the thing that helps improve your memory. A new study of 5,000 individuals, called the COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS), confirmed previous findings that taking a multivitamin can help protect your brain from the memory loss that comes with aging. According to the study, taking this supplement delayed the aging of the brain by about two years.

EXERCISE…to protect your bones

Bone loss is an inevitable part of aging, but we can fight it. One way to do so, according to a recent study from the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, is with daily medium- to high-intensity physical activities. The research put physically inactive adults between the ages of 70 and 85 through a year-long exercise program. They found that even short bursts of activity, like brisk walking or jumping, were found to be beneficial for the study participant’s bone health. The takeaway: Being active is important.

“It is possible to incorporate more high-intensity activity into your everyday life in small bouts, such as brisk walks and stair climbing,” researcher Tuuli Suominen wrote in the study. “Jumping-like impacts can also be achieved without the actual jumping by first raising up on your tiptoes and then dropping down onto your heels.”