Too Much Sitting Can Harm Your Health
If you spend a lot of time sitting every day, you may be harming your health, even if you exercise. A recent review of 18 studies with nearly 800,000 participants found a link between sedentary living and overall health.
People who sit for long periods of time during the day have a two-fold increased risk for diabetes and heart disease. They also have a higher risk for death compared with people who don't sit for extended periods. Researchers found that regular exercise did not seem to lower this risk.
Although the study was not able to prove a direct link between too much sitting and worse health, the findings suggest people should be more mindful about their lifestyles. And fitting in regular exercise may not be enough.
"The average adult spends 50 to 70 percent of his or her time sitting, so the findings of this study have far-reaching implications," says study leader Emma Wilmot, a research fellow in the Diabetes Research Group at the University of Leicester in the U.K. "By simply limiting the time that we spend sitting, we may be able to reduce our risk for diabetes, heart disease, and death."
People already at high risk for diabetes should especially take these findings to heart. "Our study also showed that the most consistent associations were between sitting and diabetes," Dr. Wilmot says. "This is an important message. People with risk factors for diabetes may be able to help reduce their risk by limiting the time spent sitting." Risk factors for diabetes include being obese or having a family history of the disease.
You can take steps to be more active during the day. Study co-author Stuart Biddle of Loughborough University offers the following tips to reduce your sitting time:
- Break up long periods of sitting at work by standing while using your computer. For instance, place your laptop on a filing cabinet.
- Stand during meetings.
- Take a walk during your lunch break.
- Replace TV viewing with more active pursuits.
This study was published in a recent issue of Diabetologia.
Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.