Medical

Sitting too long can lead to early death

Sitting too long can lead to early death

"The study adds to the growing literature on how risky long periods of sitting are for our health, and underscores a growing awareness among clinicians and researchers that sitting really is the new smoking", added Monika Safford, professor at Weill Cornell Medical Centre. As your total sitting time increases, so does your risk of an early death.

Researchers say this is the largest study done so far that links sedentary time, specifically sitting for long periods of time with an increased death risk.

"Sit less, move more" is what the American Heart Association encourages all of us to do.

The study published Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine monitored nearly 8000 African-American and Caucasian participants over the age of 45 over a period of seven days.

Like many of us, executive assistant Meghan Hampsey spends way too many hours sitting behind a desk.

"We need similar guidelines for sitting", said Diaz.

Previous studies have shown being sedentary can be bad for your health.

For the current study, researchers examined data on 7,985 adults, aged 45 and older, who were asked to wear accelerometers to measure activity levels for one week. During the study period, the team recorded 340 total deaths considered "all-cause mortality" - any death, regardless of cause.

"As we age, and our physical and mental function declines, we become more and more sedentary", wrote Diaz.

That's about 77 percent of the time awake spent sitting. The average sedentary period was 11.4 minutes.

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Those with greater sitting time had: A almost 50% increased risk of death from any cause and about a 125% increased risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease, such as chest pain (angina) or heart attack. And the same was true for longer sitting stretches.

"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.

Adults are sedentary for nine to 10 hours of their waking day, which can lead to cardiovascular risks and even death.

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

While previous research has linked excessive sedentary time to an increased risk of death, numerous studies relied on people to accurately recall and report how much they moved around and might not have painted a clear picture of the relationship between mortality and inactivity.

People with greater total sedentary time were more likely to be black, to smoke, and to have diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, estimated glomerular filtration rate less than 60 mL/min/1.73 m, and atrial fibrillation. 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. Earlier studies that have reported a link between sitting and an early death have relied on people telling researchers how long they sat in a day.

Researchers sorted participants into four groups from the least sedentary people, who spent only about 11 hours total sitting and standing in a typical day, to the most sedentary people who were inactive for more than 13 hours a day.

Barry A. Franklin, PhD, director of Preventive Cardiology and Cardiac Rehabilitation at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, who was not involved with the study, told MedPage Today that the findings support recent studies which suggest that intermittent low-intensity standing throughout the day may be as important for disease prevention and optimization of health as is structured exercise.

"The first time we do this, the positive effects are immediate", she said.

So if you have a job or lifestyle where you have to sit for prolonged periods of time, we suggest taking a movement break every half hour.


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