Sitting Too Much Can Kill You

You may want to stand up to read this. According to a new study from the American Cancer Society, spending too much time sitting down can increase your risk of death, even if you’re otherwise physically active. The study apparently did not address the risks of lying down, so we assume it’s okay to replace our office chair with a couch in order to improve our health.

Science Daily took a look at the study, which appears in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

To explore the association between sitting time and mortality, researchers led by Alpa Patel, Ph.D. analyzed survey responses from 123,216 individuals (53,440 men and 69,776 women) who had no history of cancer, heart attack, stroke, or emphysema/other lung disease enrolled in the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention II study in 1992. They examined the amount of time spent sitting and physical activity in relation to mortality between 1993 and 2006.

They found that more leisure time spent sitting was associated with higher risk of mortality, particularly in women. Women who reported more than six hours per day of sitting were 37 percent more likely to die during the time period studied than those who sat fewer than 3 hours a day. Men who sat more than 6 hours a day were 18 percent more likely to die than those who sat fewer than 3 hours per day. The association remained virtually unchanged after adjusting for physical activity level. Associations were stronger for cardiovascular disease mortality than for cancer mortality.

When combined with a lack of physical activity, the association was even stronger. Women and men who both sat more and were less physically were 94% and 48% more likely, respectively, to die compared with those who reported sitting the least and being most active.

The study’s authors recommend that people who sit too much “stand up and walk around.” Guess that rules out the couch.

More time spent sitting linked to higher risk of death; Risk found to be independent of physical activity level [Science Daily]