Prolonged sitting is killing us

We’ve been hearing about how bad sitting is for us for years now, but until recently, we had no idea it could mean an early death.

New research has revealed that sitting for more than 3 hours daily is responsible for around 3.8% of all-cause deaths over 54 countries.

But there good news too: you can increase your life expectancy by an average of 0.2 years by reducing sitting time to less than 3 hours a day.

Lead researcher Leandro Rezende, of the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Sao Paulo School of Medicine in Brazil, and colleagues published their findings in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, reports Medical News Today.

On average, we spend up to 13 hours a day sitting, with around 7.5 hours spent sitting at work, which can wreak havoc on our health.

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Rezende notes that day-to-day demands make it difficult to change our habits.

“Although sitting is an intrinsic part of human nature, excessive sitting is very common in modern societies,” he notes.

“Sedentary behavior is determined by individual, social and environmental factors, all strongly influenced by the current economic system, including a greater number of labor-saving devices for commuting, at home and work, and urban environment inequalities that force people to travel longer distances and live in areas that lack support for active lifestyles.”

The researchers used the data to assess the sitting time for each population, including Australia, and this data was compared with national statistics on population size, life table – the probability that a person is likely to die before their next birthday – and all-cause mortality.

The team calculated that, over the 54 countries, a sitting time of 3 hours or more each day was responsible for around 3.8% – or 433,000 – of all-cause deaths, a shocking fact.

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However even just improving your sitting time by even just a little bit can improve your longevity.

“It was observed that even modest reductions, such as a 10% reduction in the mean sitting time or a 30-minute absolute decrease of sitting time per day, could have an instant impact in all-cause mortality”, said Rezende.

“Reducing sitting time would help people increase their volumes of physical activity along the continuum to higher physical activity levels”, he said.

He also pointed out that there needed to be more promotion of active lifestyles across the globe.

Tell us, how many hours do you sit for every day? Have you seen negative effects from this?