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Sitting Longer Hours linked to Earlier Death

Middle-age and senior individuals who sit longer hours at leisure, could die earlier, according to an American Cancer Society study. As reported by ACS epidemiologist Alpo Patel, PhD and colleagues, based on the 14-year study, people who spent at least six hours of their daily leisure time sitting died sooner than people who sat less than three hours. Worse outcome were noted in those who both sit a lot and exercise little. They have an even higher risk of death. The effect is stronger for women than for men, but significant for both sexes.

The study involved 53,440 American men and 69,776 women who were 50-74 years old when the study began in 1992. They were asked, “During the past year, on an average day (not counting time spent at your job), how many hours a day did you spend sitting (watching television, reading, etc.)?” The statisticians adjusted data for smoking, height/weight, and other factors. The investigators found that compared to sitting less than three hours a day, sitting six or more hours a day had the following adverse outcomes:

  • Increased the death rate by about 40 percent in women
  • Increased the death rate by about 20 percent in men
  • Increased the death rate by 94 percent in the least active women
  • Increased the death rate by 48 percent in the least active men

Dr. Patel and colleagues commented that sitting itself was detrimental to health, and showed increased risk of cancer death. But the main death risk linked to sitting was still heart disease. “It is beneficial to encourage sedentary individuals to stand up and walk around as well as to reach optimal levels of physical activity,” Dr. Patel and colleagues concluded.

Standing, and exercising in place while watching television could perhaps make a difference.

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