Sitting for periods raises health risks, even in active people 32



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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:

  1. “While working at a desk, be sure to get up for one to three minutes every half-hour or so and move around.
  2. “While watching TV, stand or exercise during the advertisements (and no, don’t go stand at the open fridge or the pantry).
  3. “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.
  4. “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.”

How long do you spend sitting each day?

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. doesnt look good for office workers. Or people unfortunately stuck in wheel chairs.

    1 REPLY
    • Office workers and the like can surely find a way to at least stand for a few minutes at regular intervals, if not do a quick walk around. Perhaps even stand to do some tasks. Some creative thinking & the desire is all that’s required. The problem is that most do not have the desire.

  2. What happened to the study …30 minutes exercise a day is good for you even if you break that into 3 blocks of 10 mins ??

  3. The way I see it . We are all going to die and it seems with everything we eat drink do or dont do..we are doomed! So grit your teeth and enjoy the ride however you wish

    2 REPLY
    • Totally agree with you!! All that this ‘info’ achieves is to stress people out and isn’t stress meant to be a killer too?? Bah Humbug!! Just LIVE as you see fit and what feels good to you personally and forget about this rubbish.

  4. Yes, I sit too much. A couple of months ago I change my fly tying bench around so that i now stand for hours while I tie.

    I will rearrange my office so that I will stand to use the PC

    Maybe that will help. B|

    1 REPLY
  5. I’ve been aware of sitting for longer periods than normal while nursing a broken foot,and can’t wait to get back to my regular walks.

  6. So they are saying that kids who go to school and sit for long periods are increasing there health risks…..what a load of twaddle

  7. So you want us to stand up for long periods – thought that gave you swollen ankles and varicose veins? So many alarmist articles nowadays. Exercise regularly and eat well that’s all you can do, I cannot stand for any length of time without back pain guess that means I will die next week?

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