A recent Los Angeles Times article suggests that even for active and healthy individuals, sitting for long periods of time can lead to a number of health issues and even a shorter life.
The latest research -- published recently in the Annals of Internal Medicine -- finds that the risk of poor health "is more pronounced at lower levels of physical activity than at higher levels."
Those who engage in regular physical activity but still spend a large proportion of their day in sedentary activity were found, on average, to be 30% less likely to die of any cause in a given period than were those who get little to no exercise. But even those who punctuate a long day of sitting with a vigorous workout were estimated to be 16% more likely to die of any cause in a given time than were those who do not sit for long.
The article notes, “The likelihood of dying from cardiovascular disease rises less dramatically (about 18%) with long hours of sitting, as did the risk of cancers (between 13% and 16%). Studies observed higher rates of breast, colon, colorectal, endometrial and endothelial ovarian cancer among those who logged long hours in a chair.”
Many of these health issues can lead to early death as well as health issues which lead to a higher risk of Long Term Health Care.
Dr. David Alter, senior scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and a senior author of the paper, did offer some tips on ways to limit sitting and its impact. He recommends:
While working at a desk, be sure to get up for one to three minutes every half-hour or so and move around.
While watching TV, stand or exercise during the advertisements (and no, don't go stand at the open fridge or the pantry).
Monitor how much you sit, and try to reduce it by realistic increments every week. You should aim for two to three fewer sedentary hours in a 12-hour day. A wearable monitor can help establish a baseline and assess progress toward a goal.
Know that getting regular exercise is good for you regardless of what you do for the rest of the day: It will not only help reduce your sedentary time, it should lower your risk of illness and improve your survival prospects if you have no alternative to logging long hours in a chair.
It appears you should get up and move around. Don’t stay in a sitting position for long periods of time. Once in the habit, it will become natural and lead to better overall health.