If you've heard that your desk job is killing you, a new study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology may allow you to breath a sigh of relief.

Numerous studies have suggested that prolonged sitting contributes to poor health and increases all around morality risks. A study published earlier this year in Annals of Internal Medicine reported that these risks persisted even with an hour of daily exercise. However, a new study out of the UK challenges these findings among those who are already physically active.

Researchers analyzed more than 5,000 British Civil Service employees who were free of cardiovascular disease. Participants were asked how much time they spent sitting as well as how much time they spent engaging in moderate to vigorous physical activity. Information about their daily walking time was also collected. The researchers collected this information over an average period of 16 years or until death.

The researchers concluded that the total amount of time sitting was not associated with an increased risk of mortality. The team concluded that mortality rates were down partly due to the effects of daily physical exercise. The study's coauthor, Dr. Melvyn Hillsdon, believes that health recommendations may need to focus more on increased physical activity rather than decreased sedentary behavior.

Our study overturns current thinking of the health risks of sitting,” Hillsdon said. “[The study] indicates that the problem lies in the absence of movement rather than the time spent sitting itself.”

The team's findings also challenge the effectiveness of sit-stand desks in the workplace, but says further research may be necessary to see whether or not prolonged sitting may lead to enhanced risks of certain diseases.

Though this research may be reassuring to those with the typical 9-to-5 office job, the results of the study aren't an excuse to become a complete couch potato.

Any stationary posture where energy expenditure is low may be detrimental to health,” Hillsdon said. “Be it sitting or standing.”

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