Sitting for long periods of time may increase the risk of early death, heart disease

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Experts encourage consumers to get up and move as much as possible

A new study conducted by researchers at Simon Fraser University explored some of the health risks associated with too much sedentary time. According to their findings, consumers who spend extended hours sitting down may be at a higher risk of premature death and heart disease. 

“The overarching message here is to minimize how much you sit,” said researcher Scott Lear. “If you must sit, getting in more exercise during other times of the day will offset that risk.” 

Risks of too much sitting

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from more than 105,000 participants from nearly two dozen countries. Participants answered questions about their daily habits, including time spent exercising versus time spent sitting, and the researchers followed up with them for over 11 years (on average). 

The study showed that sitting for longer periods of time was associated with poorer health outcomes. Participants who spent six to eight hours each day sitting down were 13% more likely to develop heart disease or experience premature death. For those who surpassed the eight-hour mark, the health and longevity risk skyrocketed to 20%. 

It’s also interesting to note that exercising seemed to minimize the health risks associated with sitting. Health risks were as high as 50% for those who spent the most amount of time sitting and were the least physically active; however, sitting for long periods of time coupled with high levels of exercise lowered the health risks to under 20%. 

“For those sitting more than four hours a day, replacing a half hour of sitting with exercise reduced the risk by 2%,” said Lear. “With only one in four Canadians meeting the activity guidelines, there’s a real opportunity here for people to increase their activity and reduce their chances of early death and heart disease.” 

Moving forward, the researchers hope people start adopting healthier habits and cutting back on how much time they spend sitting down. 

“Our study found that a combination of sitting and inactivity accounted for 8.8% of all deaths, which is close to the contribution of smoking,” said Lear. “It’s a global problem that has a remarkably similar fix. Scheduling time to get out of that chair is a great start.” 

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