A comfortable armchair or couch that lures you in after a long day at work exudes an irresistible appeal for many people – but those who already sit a lot in everyday life should perhaps look around for alternatives. Because: Researchers have found that too much time sitting can not only bring notorious couch potatoes into an early grave.
The scientists at Simon Fraser University surveyed more than 100,000 people in 21 different countries and, after evaluating the data, report that people who spend six to eight hours a day sitting have a 12 to 13 percent increased risk of early death and heart disease to have. People who sit more than eight hours a day even had a 20 percent higher risk.
In collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in Beijing, the study authors tracked these individuals for an average of 11 years. The team found a clear link between excessive time spent sitting and heart disease and an increased risk of death.
The researchers say that while sitting is a health problem in all countries, it is “particularly problematic” in low- and middle-income countries.
The study shows that the risk gradually increases the more often a person sits. Those who sat the most had the highest risk levels — up to 50 percent. Conversely, the most active participants had the lowest risk profile (17 percent).
“For those who sit for more than four hours a day, replacing half an hour of sitting with exercise reduced the risk by two percent,” explains Professor Lear. “With only one in four Canadians meeting the activity guidelines, there is a real and simple opportunity for people to increase their activity and thereby reduce their risk of premature death and heart disease.”
“Our study found that a combination of sitting and inactivity accounted for 8.8 percent of all deaths – which is very close to the increased risk of death from smoking (10.6 percent in this study). It’s a global problem, but with a remarkably simple solution. Now is a good time to start planning fixed times when you leave the chair,” concludes Prof. Lear.