Sitting More Than 12 Hours In A Day Increases Risk Of Death

Take a Stand Against Sitting Too Much

After tracking the participants for four years, the data revealed that those who racked up the most time sitting were also the most likely to have died during the study period even after taking account of mitigating factors such as time spent exercising. According to the authors, these findings suggest that taking a break from sitting every half hour could help to mitigate the negative effects of sedentary time.

"We tend to think of sedentary behaviour as just the sheer volume of how much we sit around each day", said Keith Diaz, associate research scientist at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) in the US. "The longer the better, the more intense the better", said Diaz. "Unfortunately the message is more mixed ... it looks like both are bad for you".

Even though modern life makes it easier for people to spend more time sitting on the couch or lying on the bed binge-watching Netflix or watching a movie on one's iPad, Deborah Rohm Young, Director of Behavioral Research at Kaiser Permanente Southern California, encouraged one to take breaks from one's sedentary lifestyle at regular intervals.

They studied the amount of time people were sitting throughout the day and compared it to their rates of mortality.

To understand the relationship between sedentary behavior and early death, Diaz and his colleagues at Columbia, NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and other institutions turned to the REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) project, a study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.

The finding that a workout will not undo the harms caused by prolonged sitting is unsurprising, Levine added. "To give you a specific number, those who sat for more than 13 hours per day had a 2-fold (or 200%) greater risk of death compared to those who sat for less than about 11 hours per day". When our muscles are inactive, they are not using blood sugar, and we know that blood sugar can wreak awful consequences on our body.

"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.

The report was published online September 11 in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

"The REGARDS study was originally created to examine why blacks (and particularly blacks in the Southern US) have a greater risk for stroke than whites", said Diaz.

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"It might require a combination of exercise, light activity and frequent movement breaks", he said.

"The lack of activity in our muscles affects our ability to metabolise our sugars efficiently", Alter, author of an accompanying editorial, said by email. "It could also be partly due to the fact that we used an activity monitor to track sedentary time rather than using self-report".

For 77.4% of wear time or approximately 12.3 hours over a 16-hour waking day, participants demonstrated sedentary behavior.

Sedentary time was measured using a hip-mounted accelerometer and prolonged, uninterrupted sedentariness was expressed as mean sedentary bout length. Over a median follow-up of 4 years, 340 participants died.

Previous studies showing a link between sedentary behavior and death have relied on self-reporting to evaluate the total volume of sedentary time and did not examine whether the manner in which sedentary time is accrued (in short or long bouts) carries prognostic relevance.

Those who had the lowest risk of dying were those who didn't sit longer than 30 minutes at a stretch, the findings showed.

"Outcomes of this study indicate what other studies have found and that is the more sedentary we are, the greater the health risk", agreed Connie Diekman, MEd, RD, of Washington University in St Louis.

"That risk is reduced if we exercise at least 150 minutes per week, but not entirely eliminated", he concluded.

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