Do you spend too many hours sitting leisurely making the best of your time? Or perhaps you’ve spent many decades sitting at work. Well, new research says that those who site for long hours raise their average risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and early death.
The research takes in findings from 47 different scientific studies and declares that even those who meet recommended daily levels of exercise are at risk if they sit for long period of time.
(It seems my long-held passion of sitting at the keyboard bringing you the news to talk about could be in fact risking my life 😉 You’re welcome!)
The research was published last week in the Annals of Internal Medicine shows that the risks of health concerns are “more pronounced at lower levels of physical activity than at higher levels.”
Highlights of the study showed that people who undertake regular physical activity but spent a lot of their day sedentary could be 30% less likely to die than those who get little or no exercise and those that spend their days sitting and do a vigorous workout were 16% more likely to die than those who do not sit for long.
Each of the 47 studies that were drawn upon defined prolonged sitting differently, and therefore the results are interpretative. One study defined it as watching TV for 5 hours per day, which anyone who sits down at 6pm and watched TV til 11pm will be at risk of. Another study suggested it was more than 11 hours a day of sitting.
So what do we need to know from what this study is telling us:
- Those who spend long hours in sedentary activity are 90% more likely than those who don’t to develop type 2 diabetes.
- The likelihood of dying from cardiovascular disease rises less dramatically (about 18%) with long hours of sitting, as did the risk of cancers (between 13% and 16%). Studies observed higher rates of breast, colon, colorectal, endometrial and endothelial ovarian cancer among those who logged long hours in a chair.
One of the researchers from the paper, Dr. David Alter, senior scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute offered some ideas via the LA Times on how to limit sitting and its impact. His tips included the following:
- “While working at a desk, be sure to get up for one to three minutes every half-hour or so and move around.
- “While watching TV, stand or exercise during the advertisements (and no, don’t go stand at the open fridge or the pantry).
- “Monitor how much you sit, and try to reduce it by realistic increments every week. You should aim for two to three fewer sedentary hours in a 12-hour day.
- “Know that getting regular exercise is good for you regardless of what you do for the rest of the day: It will not only help reduce your sedentary time, it should lower your risk of illness and improve your survival prospects if you have no alternative to logging long hours in a chair.”