More evidence too much sitting could be deadly


"What's most troubling is it's like I exercise in the morning and I think I'm good, but in addition to exercise I should also be mindful of not being sedentary for long periods throughout the day", said lead researcher Keith Diaz.

How you sit is more important for your health than the total amount of time you're sitting, a new study claims.

The REGARDS project was originally envisioned to study why blacks -especially those in the Southern U.S. -have a greater risk of suffering a stroke than white individuals.

In a new study, researchers followed a national representative population of 8,000 individuals older than 45 for an average of four years. This new study, however, actually measured sitting time using a hip-mounted accelerometer that tracked movement, and correlated it with the risk of dying during the study period.

By closely monitoring the participants over a span of week to determine their average sedentary pattern, it was seen that they were sedentary for an average of 12.3 hours over the course of a 16-hour day, with each sedentary bout extending to around 11.4 minutes. The average sedentary period was 11.4 minutes.

Analyzing the data, it was found that participants who kept their bouts of physical inactivity to less than 30 minutes had the lowest risk for death.

The results account for multiple variables, such as age, race and sex.

"We found that there wasn't a threshold or cutoff where one's risk for death dramatically increased", said Diaz, explaining that risk of death increased with more sitting. No matter how much you exercise sitting for hours can increase your risk of an early death.

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"Bout duration is a little trickier", said Diaz.

Those who were inactive for 13.2 hours a day had a risk of death 2.6 times that of those spending less than 11.5 hours a day inactive, while those whose bouts of inactivity lasted on average 12.4 minutes or more had a risk of death nearly twice that of those who were inactive for an average of less than 7.7 minutes at a time.

Moving your body at least every half an hour could help to limit the harmful effects of desk jobs and other sedentary lifestyles, research has revealed.

"This study adds to the growing literature on how unsafe long periods of sitting are for our health, and underscores a growing awareness among clinicians and researchers that sitting really is the new smoking", said study co-author Monika Safford, MD, chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine and the John J. Kuiper Professor at Weill Cornell Medicine, and an internist at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Alter, who did not contribute to Diaz' research, said some scientists theorize that more sitting leads to reductions in insulin sensitivity, while others believe net calorie expenditures decline as sitting increases. As per Diaz, their findings only showed the link between early death and too much sitting but it can't prove that it causes a risk.

Forty-eight percent of the time sitting was spent in a bout for longer than 30 minutes, and 28 percent of the time was spent sitting for at least an hour.

The researchers write, 'Accumulation of large volumes of sedentary time is a hazardous health behavior regardless of how it is accumulated'.

"Many previous studies have relied on self-reported assessments of sitting time, whereas this study was better able to objectively quantify the level of sedentary behavior", he told MedPage Today.