Studies have been screaming for years that sitting is killing us, but I've long thought hardcore sitters like myself would go out with a bang, like a heart attack or literal heartsplosion. Unfortunately, a new study says a sitter's future will resemble a slow, jelly-legged decline—apparently the more you sit now, the harder it will be for you to walk in your twilight years. Turns out WALL-E was right about everything.
GQ reports that the study, published in the Journals of Gerontology, found that older people who watched more than five hours of TV per day weren't just at a higher risk for diabetes, heart disease and cancer. In fact, the study found that sedentary folks actually had trouble getting off the couch in the first place, with increased sitting correlating with losing overall mobility. Basically, if you don't walk now, you might not be able to later. As one author of the study told NPR, "Sitting and watching TV for long periods, especially in the evening has got to be one of the most dangerous things that older people can do."
Even people who exercised found themselves having difficulty walking if they spent too much time in front of a screen (though less difficulty than those who never exercised). And what's worse, as NPR points out, is that the study surveyed 130,000 people ages 50 to 71 starting from about the mid-1990s to 2005, long before the advent of online shopping, binge-watching and Instagram Stories. It's much easier to sit for six hours straight when your phone and laptop do all the getting up for you.
So how do we spare ourselves a limbless future? For one thing, sitters should get up once every 30 minutes, if just to shake things out. Workers are also encouraged to invest in standing desks or just stand at your desk half the day (like I do) if you're also short. The study also found that older folks who replaced one sitting hour with walking, gardening or some other non-exercise activity fared better in the long run, too. And, generally, it's a good idea to limit some of your post-work screen time anyway, especially while the weather's still nice—the fourth season of Bojack isn't going anywhere just yet, after all.