Is your desk job killing you? International panel prescribes 4 hours of standing

It is conventional knowledge that a sedentary lifestyle is bad for your health. For people with desk jobs, this means making a more deliberate effort to stand up and move around throughout the day.

People who typically sit down all day should aim to stand up and engage in light activity for a total of four hours per day, according to an international panel of experts commissioned by Public Health England and the company Active Working CIC, according to Reuters.

The panel recommends that people first set a goal to stand or do light activity — such as walking — for two hours per day and work up to four hours over time.

The panel's recommendation marks the first baseline for a prescribed amount of time working folks should spend on their feet each day, though the recommendation could change as more evidence emerges, according to Reuters.

Too much time sitting down is associated with poor health outcomes in the long run, including poor bone health, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and certain cancers, according to Sebastien Chastin, MD, from Glasgow Caledonian University in the U.K.

However, standing for prolonged periods should also be avoided, according to the panel, which includes health experts from several universities and research institutes in the U.K., U.S. and Australia.

In addition to regular exercise, breaks in sedentary time can help offset some of the risks associated with sitting for long periods of time.

"Research suggests that individuals who are not gaining the benefits of a physically active lifestyle may at least mitigate some of the health hazards associated with physical inactivity by standing more during the day," Lee Smith, PhD, a research associate at the Health Behavior Research Center at University College London, told Reuters.

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