A new study from researchers in the United Kingdom has found that sitting for long periods of time can put people's health at risk. The researchers also found that the risk was not entirely offset by exercise.
The meta-analysis was led by researchers from the University of Leicester and Loughborough University, and examined the results of 18 existing studies, which included 749,577 participants. Published in Diabetologica, the study found that people who sat for long periods of time were at increased risk for diabetes, heart disease and death.
When researchers compared people who spent the greatest amount of time sitting with those who spent the lowest amount, they found a 112 percent elevated risk of diabetes, a 147 percent elevated risk of heart disease, and a 90 percent increase of death from heart-related problems.Even for people who followed physical activity guidelines, such as exercising for 30 minutes a day, were at risk.
Each of the studies used different measures to assess the risk. Some studies required participants to spend 14 hours a week watching television, while others asked participants to self-report the amount of time they spent sitting. The researchers say that the variability means that it is impossible to determine exactly how much sedentary time is bad for you.
Nonetheless, the ramifications are severe, especially for the millions of people who work in an office during the day. The average adult spends 50 to 70 percent of their day sitting, whether at work, watching television, or sitting in a car. And, while people are certainly cutting their risk for health problems by going to the gym, they also need to be aware of what they are doing for the other 23.5 hours a day.
The strongest associations were between sedentary lifestyles and diabetes. Indeed, evidence has shown that sitting for long periods of time affects glucose levels and increases insulin resistance. But scientists do not yet know what the precise link is.
Researchers suggest that people break up the amount of time spent sitting by placing their laptops on filing cabinets to work standing up, walking during lunch breaks, and cutting back on television viewing.