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Standing for healthier lives—literally

Francisco Lopez-Jimenez
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehv356 ehv356 First published online: 30 July 2015

This editorial refers to ‘Replacing sitting time with standing or stepping: associations with cardio-metabolic risk biomarkers’, by G.N. Healy et al., doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehv308.

Since the original study by Morris in 19531 showing that bus conductors in London experienced less coronary heart disease and mortality than bus drivers who would be sitting most of the time, there has been a large body of evidence proving the health benefits of physical activity.2 Numerous studies have shown that physical activity reduces total mortality, cardiovascular events, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and several types of cancer. Over time, most of the research in the field focused on the health benefits of moderate to vigorous physical activity and, specifically, on the role of aerobic exercise in preventing cardiovascular events and death. All this has resulted in guidelines from federal agencies and scientific organizations recommending frequent moderate to vigorous physical activity.3 More recently, research studies have tested the role of sedentary behaviour, the counterpart of physical activity, as a major cardiovascular risk factor. Sedentary behaviour includes activities that require <1.5 METs (metabolic equivalents) of physical effort such as sitting, using a computer, watching television, driving, etc. Epidemiological studies have demonstrated that sedentary behaviour, particularly prolonged sitting, increases total and cardiovascular mortality even in individuals who meet the recommended goals of weekly physical activity.4,5 More recent studies, assessing the association between sedentary lifestyle and health, highlight the possible role of standing (vs. sitting) to prevent obesity and metabolic dysregulation.6

Research studies showing the harmful effects of sedentary behaviour beyond regular physical activity and exercise have carefully followed statistical procedures to reach those conclusions. However, the message regarding …

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