Being a couch potato can kill you – but you might be able to wiggle your way out of trouble

Next time you go to sit down, take a second to think about what you’re doing. Put simply – it could be killing you. Scientists have discovered spending too many hours sitting increases the risk of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Yes, you’ve got that right, “non-alcoholic fatty liver disease”, which we will call NAFLD for short because the full name is just too much of a mouthful. It seems you can stuff your liver even without trying. You don’t have to drink excessive glasses of vino, just park your butt on the lounge for too long.

The researchers studied a group of 139,056 men and women over a period of time. This included health checks, monitoring assorted physical tasks and food and physical-activity questionnaires. Those who spent more than five hours a day sitting showed a nine per cent risk of developing NAFLD compared to people who sat less than five hours a day. Exercise also played a part in reducing risk. Surprisingly, even those with a normal-range body mass index were at higher risk, so being thin doesn’t give you a free get-out-of-jail card.

They worked out that those who sat for more than five hours a day could increase their risk of cancer by up to 66 per cent.

Study co-author Dr Yoosoo Chang said the findings suggested increasing participation in physical activity and reducing sitting time might be independently important in reducing the risk of NAFLD.

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The findings were released in the Korean Journal of Hepatology.

Before you rush to jump off the lounge, take heart: there may be a simple way to lessen the risk, which doesn’t even require you to get up.

Another UK study found fidgeting can offset the unhealthy effects of sitting for long periods and could even help you live longer.

Professor Janet Cade said while further research is needed, the findings raise questions about whether the negative associations with fidgeting, such as rudeness or lack of concentration, should persist if such simple movements are beneficial for our health.

Those findings were published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

So, next time you do go to sit down, start fidgeting – and ignore anyone who tries to stop you!

How many hours do you sit a day? Come on, fess up! Add it up – it could be longer than you think.