Study links more time spent sitting to higher risk of death

A new study from American Cancer Society researchers finds it's not just how much physical activity you get, but how much time you spend sitting that can affect your risk of death. Researchers say time spent sitting was independently associated with total mortality, regardless of physical activity level. They conclude that public health messages should promote both being physically active and reducing time spent sitting. The study appears early online in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Increasing obesity levels in the United States are widely predicted to have major public health consequences. A growing epidemic of overweight and obesity has been attributed in part to reduced overall . And while several studies support a link between sitting time and obesity, , cardiovascular disease risk factors (11, 16, 17), and unhealthy dietary patterns in children and adults (18-20), very few studies have examined time spent sitting in relation to total mortality (21-23). Thus, public health guidelines focus largely on increasing physical activity with little or no reference to reducing time spent sitting.

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, , stroke, or /other enrolled in the American Cancer Society's 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.

"Several factors could explain the positive association between time spent sitting and higher all-cause death rates," said Dr. Patel. "Prolonged time spent sitting, independent of physical activity, has been shown to have important metabolic consequences, and may influence things like triglycerides, high density lipoprotein, cholesterol, fasting plasma glucose, resting blood pressure, and leptin, which are biomarkers of obesity and cardiovascular and other chronic diseases."

The authors conclude that " messages and guidelines should be refined to include reducing time spent sitting in addition to promoting physical activity. Because a sizeable fraction of the population spends much of their time sitting, it is beneficial to encourage sedentary individuals to stand up and walk around as well as to reach optimal levels of physical activity."

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More information: "Leisure Time Spent Sitting in Relation to Total Mortality in a Prospective Cohort of US Adults." Alpa V. Patel, Leslie Bernstein, Anusila Deka, Heather Spencer Feigelson, Peter T. Campbell, 5 Susan M. Gapstur, Graham A. Colditz, and Michael J. Thun. Am J Epid Published online July 22, 2010. DOI:10.1093/aje/kwq155
Citation: Study links more time spent sitting to higher risk of death (2010, July 22) retrieved 20 September 2019 from
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Jul 22, 2010
WHOA! I didn't realize I could reduce my risk of death! I thought it was 100%, just like everyone else! Medical research has come so far!

C'mon, Physorg. I expect better editing than this. I expect this kind of headline from The Onion.

Jul 22, 2010
So 94% more women died over the 3 year period from the low physical activity group than the high-activity non-sitting group?

Jul 22, 2010
Nice kids are left without. And now, they even die younger. Thanks a lot!! Guess if I'm one of them, and guess if I'm happy about this?

All your childhood, parents tell you to sit still. All your teachers have you sit still. You should do your homework, sitting still. And when your friends are over, you should be in your room, and sit still. Play a quiet board game, or watch TV, but sit still, like nice little children.

Later, go to your cubicle, and sit still. Go home, listen to wife lamenting and nagging, and sit still.

Wanna bet if I'm telling this to MY children!

Jul 23, 2010
I used to get after my wife for sitting all day and doing nothing but smoking cigarettes. She also did not take hormone replacement therapy out of fear of cervical canceer. She did not live to get cancer. The atherosclerosis from smoking and osteoporosis from no hormone therapy did her in long before any cancer could develope. Not to mention being totally out of shape from sitting all the time.

Jul 23, 2010
All your childhood, parents tell you to sit still. All your teachers have you sit still. You should do your homework, sitting still. And when your friends are over, you should be in your room, and sit still. Play a quiet board game, or watch TV, but sit still, like nice little children

Maybe it's because they all would really like the little critters to just die so they can be rid of them? ;-))))

Jul 23, 2010
mark101, Group A had 50 moralities, Group B has 97 moralities. Group B has 94% more moralities than Group A. (47/50 == .94). That's how I read it anyway, the size of the groups doesn't matter

Jul 25, 2010
It would be more interesting if they compared recommended daily allowance to sitting. The wrong foods is the problem not the resting while not eating. They mentioned eating the wrong foods and watching television as a more accurate fact.
http://www.physor...550.html and television)
Just because someone is resting or sleeping on their backs does not translate to sleeping in a coffin and perishing, but if you eat before going to bed it would be more true to perishing than to resting.http://www.physor...740.html

Jul 25, 2010
don't have a lot of data to show causality; but empirical evidence suggests that being born increases an individuals risk of death.

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