Take a Stand Against Sitting Too Much

From Drugs.com - September 11, 2017

Take a Stand Against Sitting Too Much

MONDAY, Sept. 11, 2017 -- Days spent sitting for hours may increase your risk for an early death no matter how much you exercise, researchers say.

In a new study, people who sat the most had twice the risk of dying over a 4-year period as people who sat the least. But taking a break every 30 minutes to get up and walk around might help decrease the risk, the study authors said.

"What's most troubling is it's like I exercise in the morning and I think I am good, but in addition to exercise I should also be mindful of not being sedentary for long periods throughout the day," said lead researcher Keith Diaz. He is an associate research scientist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.

It's more than exercise, Diaz said. "You have to do more. You have to move, you have to get up often and break up your sedentary habits if you want to have the lowest risk of death," he explained.

Many people sit for up to 10 hours a day, he noted. Earlier studies that have reported a link between sitting and an early death have relied on people telling researchers how long they sat in a day. This new study, however, actually measured sitting time using a hip-mounted accelerometer that tracked movement, and correlated it with the risk of dying during the study period.

Diaz cautioned, however, that this study only shows an association between sitting and an increased risk of early death. It ca not prove that sitting causes the risk, due to the study design.

Exactly how prolonged sitting might be related to an increased risk of early death is not known, he added.

"There is evidence that suggests, but does not prove, that it could be about how our body handles blood sugar," Diaz said.

"We think it's through a kind of diabetic pathway. When our muscles are inactive, they are not using blood sugar, and we know that blood sugar can wreak terrible consequences on our body. Poor blood sugar control is thought to be one of the ways sitting increases one's risk for heart disease or death," he said.

Standing up from your desk and walking around for a few minutes every half hour could be an important behavioral change that might reduce the risk of premature death, Diaz suggested.

The report was published online Sept. 11 in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

Dr. David Alter is an associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto. He said, "We do not yet know what the ideal solutions are to remedy the risks associated with sedentary behavior."

It's not just about avoiding sedentary behavior or prolonged bouts of sedentary behavior, said Alter, who wrote an accompanying journal editorial.

"It might require a combination of exercise, light activity and frequent movement breaks," he said.


Continue reading at Drugs.com »