Sitting for too long may increase death risk
Though sitting for longer hours has become a part of our routine, it’s high time that we pay attention towards the damage being caused by it.
People who sit for one to two hours at a time may have a higher risk of early death than those who sit cumulatively for long, but in shorter bouts, a study has warned.
The study found that it is not just the amount of time spent sitting, but also the way in which sitting time is accumulated during the day, that can affect risk of early 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.
"We tend to think of sedentary behaviour as just the sheer volume of how much we sit around each day," said Keith Diaz, associate research scientist at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) in the US.
The researchers used hip-mounted activity monitors to objectively measure inactivity during waking time over a period of seven days in 7,985 black and white adults over age 45.
Over a median follow-up period of four years, 340 of the participants died. Mortality risk was calculated for those with various amounts of total sedentary time and various sedentary patterns. Those with the greatest amount of sedentary time – more than 13 hours per day – and who frequently had sedentary bouts of at least 60 to 90 consecutive minutes had a nearly two-fold increase in death risk compared with those who had the least total sedentary time and the shortest sedentary bouts.
The study was the largest to link objectively measured sedentary time and sedentary patterns with mortality risk, researchers said.
What you should really be worried about is the impact of sitting on your internal organs. When you sit for a long period of time, your muscles burn less fat and your blood begins to flow slowly, allowing fatty acids to easily clog your heart. Moreover, sitting in a chair all day will make your hips tight with a more limited degree of motion. Your glutes can weaken with lack of use, affecting your stability and power when walking and jumping.
Looking at the seriousness of the matter, here are some simple steps anyone can take to incorporate more activity into their day.
If you have a job or lifestyle where you have to sit for prolonged periods of time, it is suggested to take a movement break every half hour. This one behaviour change could reduce your risk of death. Also, one can adjust to sitting and standing positions. Standing up and taking a quick, 1 to 3 minute break every half hour or so throughout the day burns twice as many calories as sitting. Some offices have taken this to heart and given workers standing desks to help boost their health and fitness levels while they work.
When it comes to exercise, any activity is good. Some is better than none, and more is better than less. Ideally, work in a full half-hour or hour of exercise each day, while trying to be active, even in short spurts, the rest of the time. But if you can only squeeze in 10 minutes of dedicated exercise at a time, aim for that.