Sedentary Lifestyle Probably Won’t Kill You, New Study Says


Got a desk job? Like to watch TV? Do you just enjoy sitting on your butt all day? We’ve got some good news: A group of scientists have challenged the idea that a sedentary lifestyle shaves years off a person’s life. 

For the last few years, scientists, doctors, and public health efforts have warned about the dangers of sitting down for hours at a time. More recent studies argued that even regular exercise couldn’t undo the damage caused by prolonged sitting.

According to a paper published last week in the International Journal of Epidemiology, this is just plain wrong. Between 1997 and 1999, researchers from the University of Exeter and University College London interviewed 3720 men and 1412 women about their sitting habits. They asked about total sitting time, as well as the context. Study participants reported if they were sitting at work, in front of the TV, or enjoying non-TV leisure time. They answered questions about how far they walked each day as well as how often and how vigorously they exercised.

Last year, the researchers followed up to see how their study participants were doing. The results showed no relationship between sitting and an increased risk of dying, even for people who didn’t exercise.

These findings contradict not only previous studies but also public health campaigns. Recommendations from Britain’s National Health Service have focused on the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle, rather than encouraging people to exercise.

Lead author Richard Pulsford thinks it might be time for those recommendations to change. “Reducing sitting time might not be quite as important for mortality risk as previously publicized,” he said in a recent press release, “and encouraging people to be more active should still be a public health priority.”

The problem is not sitting, agreed coauthor Melvyn Hillsdon, but the absence of movement. “Any stationary posture where energy expenditure is low may be detrimental to health, be it sitting or standing.” 

Yes, that includes standing up to work. Hillsdon said the study results even “cast doubt on the benefits of sit-stand workstations.” 

Yoga and Meditation May Lead to an Inflated Ego

If you’ve been exasperated for years by that one self-righteous, yoga-obsessed friend, take note: Regular yoga practitioners experience inflated egos after a session of yoga or meditation, according to a forthcoming study in the journal Psychological Science.

Researchers found that yoga and meditation both increase "self-enhancement," or the tendency for people to attach importance to their own actions. In the first phase of the two-part study, researchers in Germany and England measured self-enhancement by recruiting 93 yoga students and having them respond to questionnaires over the course of 15 weeks, Quartz reports. Each assessment was designed to measure three outcomes: superiority, communal narcissism, and self-esteem. In the second phase, the researchers asked 162 meditation students to answer the same questionnaires over four weeks.

Participants showed significantly higher self-enhancement in the hour just after their practices. After yoga or meditation, participants were more likely to say that statements like "I am the most helpful person I know" and "I have a very positive influence on others" describe them.

At its Hindu and Buddhist roots, yoga is focused on quieting the ego and conquering the self. The findings seem to support what some critics of Western-style yoga suspect—that the practice is no longer true to its South Asian heritage.

It might not be all bad, though. Self-enhancement tends to correlate with higher levels of subjective well-being, at least in the short term. People prone to self-enhancement report feeling happier than the average person. However, they’re also more likely to exhibit social behaviors (like bragging or condescending) that are detrimental in the long term.

So if you think your yoga-loving friends are a little holier than thou, you may be right. But it might be because their yoga class isn’t deflating their egos like yogis say it should.

[h/t Quartz]

Doc_Brown, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Cropped.
This Just In
The Honey Smacks In Your Pantry May Be Contaminated With Salmonella
Doc_Brown, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Cropped.
Doc_Brown, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Cropped.

Salmonella, a bacterial food-borne illness often associated with raw eggs and undercooked chicken, has been linked recently to a popular children's cereal. According to Snopes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging consumers to avoid Kellogg’s Honey Smacks, citing the brand as the likely cause of the Salmonella outbreak spreading across the U.S.

Since early March, 73 people in 31 states have contracted the virus. Salmonella clears up in most people on its own, but in some cases it can lead to hospitalization or even death. Twenty-four victims have been admitted to hospitals so far, with no reported deaths. Of the 39 patients who were questioned, 30 of them remembered eating cold cereal and 14 of them specifically cited Honey Smacks.

In response to the outbreak, the Kellogg Company has recalled its 15.3-ounce and 23-ounce boxes of Honey Smacks printed with any "best if used by" date between June 14, 2018 and June 14, 2019 (recalled boxes are labeled on the bottom with the UPC codes 3800039103 or 3800014810). The CDC recommends that you take even greater precautions by throwing out or returning any Honey Smacks you have at home, regardless of package size, "best by" date, or whether your family has eaten from the box previously without getting sick.

Symptoms of Salmonella include diarrhea, fever, headache, and abdominal pain, and usually appear 12 hours to three days after the contaminated food is ingested. If you or someone in your household is showing signs of the infection, ask a doctor about how to best treat it.

[h/t Snopes]


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