If you have a lengthy daily commute, spend hours at a desk clacking on the computer, or sit for a prolonged period for other reasons, a pair of recent studies may have you leaping to your feet.
The first study, conducted by researchers at Cornell University, examined the effects of sitting for a long period of time each day over a 12-year period. Results showed that individuals who were inactive for more than 11 hours had a 12 percent higher mortality rate than those who sat for four hours or less. And don't think you're not at risk because you occasionally hit the gym. Cornell researcher Rebecca Seguin, PhD, explained in a Futurity post:
The assumption has been that if you’re fit and physically active, that will protect you, even if you spend a huge amount of time sitting each day... In fact, in doing so you are far less protected from negative health effects of being sedentary than you realize.
While this study focused on postmenopausal women, additional research from Kansas State University shows that the health risks of being sedentary affect both both genders. The study analyzed data on nearly 200,000 men and women ages 45 to 106 taken from a large Australian study of health and aging. The research showed that both exercising and reducing sitting time were key to improving health. MedicalXPress reports:
Even standing throughout the day—instead of sitting for hours at a time—can improve health and quality of life while reducing the risk for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, breast cancer and colon cancer, among others.
Sitting for prolonged periods of time—with little muscular contraction occurring—shuts off a molecule called lipoprotein lipase, or LPL, [Sara Rosenkranz, PhD,] said. Lipoprotein lipase helps to take in fat or triglycerides and use it for energy.
"We're basically telling our bodies to shut down the processes that help to stimulate metabolism throughout the day and that is not good," [Rosenkranz] said. "Just by breaking up your sedentary time, we can actually upregulate that process in the body."
Previously: Exercise is valuable in preventing sedentary death, Is standing healthier than sitting?, How sedentary behavior affects your health and Stanford hosts conference on the science of sedentary behavior
Photo by Danny Choo