Published: Tue, September 12, 2017
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Sitting too long without movement may kill you fast

Sitting too long without movement may kill you fast

As your total sitting time increases, so does your risk of an early death.

Overall, sedentary behaviour accounted for 77 per cent of participants' waking hours, or about 12 hours a day, researchers report in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of women's heart health at Lenox Hill Hospital in NY said, "The more we sit the worse it is".

"We found that in people who scored low on the frailty index, sitting time was not linked to risk of death", Theou said in a related press release.

"We think that if you take a movement break every 30 minutes that this could decrease your risk of death: if you can have walking meetings, if you have to type an email, instead of typing an email, just walk to their office", Dr. Diaz explained.

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One limitation of the study, however, is that the accelerometers couldn't distinguish between sedentary time from sitting versus inactive periods when people were standing, the authors note.The study also wasn't a controlled experiment created to prove how or whether sedentary time directly causes premature death. Researchers found that adults who sit for one to two hours at a time without moving have a higher mortality rate than adults who accrue the same amount of sedentary time in shorter bouts.

On averages, bouts of sedentary time were about 11 minutes long, and more than half of the time people spent sitting and standing happened in bouts of less than 30 minutes, the study found. He and his co-researchers tracked for an average of four years 7,985 black and white adult participants, age 45 or older, who had signed on to participate in the REGARDS project.

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 researchers also suggest that, those people, who used to remain seated longer than a half day without getting up once in a while, are suffering through the higher risk of mortality in very young.

The positive news: People who sat for less than 30 minutes at a time had the lowest risk of early death. All forms of physically inactivity was recorded and reported by volunteers who took part in the studies and hence there were often considerable chances of inaccuracies in the data obtained.

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While it's not entirely clear why excessive sedentary time might contribute to all-cause mortality, the researchers listed poor blood glucose control and blood vessel damage as two possible reasons.

Peter Katzmarzyk, PhD, of Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, commented that using accelerometry to measure sedentary behavior was a major study strength.

But studies show that too much sitting raises possibility of death if you exercise or work-out daily.

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

However, the latest study attempts to rectify those limitations. Additionally, the findings may not be fully generalizable to the entire REGARDS cohort, or to the general population.

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How sedentary behavior impacts our health in negative ways is "unclear and complex", wrote Dr. David A. Alter, an associate professor at the University of Toronto in Ontario, in an editorial published with the study.

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