Sitting for long periods increases your risk of death, study finds

Friday, October 19, 2012 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: sitting, death risk, office workers

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(NaturalNews) A new study has found that those who tend to sit for long periods of time - think office workers, clerks and other administrative personnel - are at great risk of diabetes, heart disease and death.

The meta study, led by Britain's University of Leicester, in association with colleagues at Loughborough University, combined 18 previous studies involving 794,577 participants, was conducted in collaboration with colleagues from the newly formed National Institute for Health Research Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit, said a statement released by the university. The results were published in Diabetologia, which is the journal of the European Association of the Study of Diabetes.

Researchers found that people who tend to sit for long periods of time have a two-fold increase in their risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and of sudden death.

"Importantly," the statement said, "associations were independent of the amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity undertaken, suggesting that even if an individual meets typical physical activity guidelines, their health may still be compromised if they sit for long periods of time throughout the day."

Get up, move around - and live longer

Dr. Emma Wilmot, a research fellow in the Diabetes Research Group at the University of Leicester, who led the study, noted that the modern inactive lifestyle is to blame.

"The average adult spends 50 to 70 percent of their time sitting so the findings of this study have far reaching implications," she said. "By simply limiting the time that we spend sitting, we may be able to reduce our risk of diabetes, heart disease and death."

Continuing, she said that the study "also showed that the most consistent associations were between sitting and diabetes. This is an important message because people with risk factors for diabetes, such as the obese, those of South Asian ethnic origin, or those with a family history of diabetes, may be able to help reduce their future risk of diabetes by limiting the time spent sitting."

Other members of the research team suggested ways to mitigate the dangers.

"There are many ways we can reduce our sitting time, such as breaking up long periods at the computer at work by placing our laptop on a filing cabinet," says Prof. Stuart Biddle of Loughborough University, a co-investigator on the study. "We can have standing meetings, we can walk during the lunch break, and we can look to reduce TV viewing in the evenings by seeking out less sedentary behaviors."

Prof. Melanie Davies, a professor of diabetes medicine at Leicester and honorary consultant at University Hospitals of Leicester reiterated the significance of the findings.

"This paper has a very important message for the public but also for health care professionals - namely that being sedentary is common and dangerous for our long term health, particularly for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and that this link appears to be over and above other lifestyle factors such as our diet and physical activity," said Davies, who is also co-investigator and director of the NIHR Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit.

Earlier research points to similar conclusions

Research has shown for years that sitting too much can lead to health problems. One significant Australian study, which followed 222,497 Australian adults for several years, found that those who sat for 11 hours a day or more were at the highest risk of all-cause mortality, followed by those who sat for eight to 11 hours per day.

Still, another study found that sitting is for that long is so bad for you that its negative effects are nearly impossible to exercise away. That study followed 27 Finnish men and women over the course of two days. On the first day, they exercised but did not do so on the second day. After researchers measured muscle activity and heart rate of study participants, they discovered that although they burned calories during exercise, it did not increase overall muscle activity.

They also found that, on average, the muscles for people who work at a desk are inactive for about 70 percent of the day, regardless of whether they engage in any physical fitness.


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