Long-term low-energy lowers life expectancy: study

Students sit in the EDC cafeteria during their lunch break. THE PROJECTOR/ Gus Gottfred

Students sit in the EDC cafeteria during their lunch break. THE PROJECTOR/ Gus Gottfred

Sitting down in class can be comfortable, but it might be slowly killing students.

Sedentary behaviour can decrease life expectancy and increase the risk of various diseases, even for people who exercise regularly, according to a 2015 study published in Health Psychology Review.

The study said sedentary behaviour involves little movement and low energy expenditure while seated or laying down.

Glenn Davis, an applied commerce and management instructor at RRC, said the students in his class sit all day unless they are presenting. Davis said he can’t do a lot about how much his students sit, but he does what he can to make their time in class more comfortable.

“I’m always making sure the room temperature is good and giving them breaks to move around,” he said.

Cheryl Lynn Adam, a nursing instructor at RRC, said her students take classes that involve both sitting and standing. One of the classes she teaches, a techniques lab, has students out of their seats for most of the class.

“For the four hours the class lasts, the students are sitting for about 30 minutes,” she said.

Adam said she realizes her students are often tired from standing all the time, but most working nurses spend full shifts on their feet.

“I worked in an emergency room, and we never sat at all,” she said.

Davis, however, noted most jobs in the business industry involve sitting.

“Unless you’re in a sales job, the majority of administrative jobs involve sitting in a chair all day.”

The study stressed that people must consider how much they sit independent from physical activity. In trials, people who were told to sit less without changing their exercise habits showed the most health improvements.

Researchers also suggested using goal setting, self-monitoring and environment modifications, like sit-stand desks, to help prevent sedentary behaviour.

Connor Hemmett, a business administration student at RRC, said he’s concerned by the risks of sitting all day. He said he would consider using a sit-stand desk in his workplace.

“I feeling like standing for a while would be an issue,” he said. “But the option to sit or stand would be ideal.”