• Sitting and working.

Sitting and working. (Photo : Getty Images)

A new study has again confirmed what's become a painful truth in today's computer-ridden workplace: desk jobs are bad for your heart and your waist

A new study shows further evidence for the view that spending too much time sitting down is bad for our health and our waistline, according to the Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick in the United Kingdom.

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Research led by Dr. William Tigbe found workers with desk-bound jobs have bigger waists and increased risk of heart disease. It supports advice to sit less and be more active. One should spend as much as seven hours a day on one's feet or walk seven miles to avoid heart disease.

Dr. Tigbe kitted out 111 healthy postal workers in Glasgow with activity monitors for seven days: 55 were office workers and 56 delivered letters for a living.

The study revealed differences between the two groups. Those with desk jobs had a bigger waist circumference -- 97 cm compared to 94 cm -- and a one BMI unit difference. They also had a higher risk of cardiovascular disease -- 2.2% compared to 1.6% over 10 years.

The new study suggests that waist circumference increases by two centimeters, and risk of cardiovascular diseases by 0.2%, for every additional hour of sitting beyond five hours.

Furthermore, bad cholesterol (LDL) increases and good cholesterol (HDL) decreases with each additional hour of sitting from five hours a day.

"Longer time spent in sedentary posture is significantly associated with larger waist circumference, higher triglycerides (fat in the blood) and lower HDL cholesterol, all adding up to worse risk of heart disease. The levels associated with zero risk factors were walking more than 15,000 steps per day, which is equivalent to walking seven to eight miles, or spending seven hours per day upright," said Dr. Tigbe.

"Our findings could be used as the basis of new public health targets for sitting, lying, standing and stepping to avoid metabolic risks.

"However the levels suggested in our research would be very challenging to achieve unless incorporated into people's occupations."

Fellow researcher Professor Mike Lean of the University of Glasgow's School of Medicine said in this research "we have learned important information, relevant to health in modern working lives, by studying the activity patterns of postal workers, one of the last physically active occupations left in the UK."

"Our evolution, to become the human species, did not equip us well to spending all day sitting down. We probably adapted to be healthiest spending seven to eight hours every day on our feet, as hunters or gatherers. "

"Our new research supports that idea. The 'bottom' line is that if you want to be sure of having no risks of heart disease, you must keep off your bottom!"