Study Finds Sitting Shortens Life Span

According to a new study of more than 120,000 American adults the effect remained even after researchers factored out obesity or the level of daily physical activity people were engaged in. 

“If you want to live a long life, get up and walk,” says Jesse Slome, executive director for the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance the industry trade organization which helps match consumers with local professionals. 

According to medical experts, if you’re in a job that does require sitting, that’s fine, but any time you can expend energy is good. That’s the key they note. 

The salutary effect of exercise on being overweight or obese, rates of which are at an all-time high, have been well documented.   But according to background information in the study, which is published online in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the effects of sitting per se are less well-studied. 

Although several studies have found a link between sitting time and obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease risk, and unhealthy diets in children, few had examined sitting and “total mortality,” researchers noted. 

The authors of the study analyzed responses from questionnaires filled out by 123,216 people (53,440 men and 69,776 women) with no history of disease who were participating in the Cancer Prevention II study conducted by the American Cancer Society.   Participants were followed for 14 years, from 1993 to 2006. 

In the study, people were more likely to die of heart disease than cancer. After adjusting for a number of risk factors, including body mass index (BMI) and smoking, women who spent six hours a day sitting had a 37 percent increased risk of dying versus those who spent less than three hours a day on their bottoms. For men the increased risk was 17 percent.


Exercise, even a little per day, did tend to lower the mortality risk tied to sitting, the researchers noted. However, sitting’s influence on death risk remained significant even when activity was factored in.


On the other hand, people who sat a lot and did not exercise or stay active had an even higher mortality risk: 94 percent for women and 48 percent for men.

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