Can prolonged sitting be dangerous to your health? Scientists and health experts convened at Stanford University on Friday to discuss the health risks of sitting and the sedentary behavior.

In US, average adult spends 9.3 hours sitting and the long-term sedentary behavior has been associated with obesity, diabetes and even some kinds of cancer. More than 60 percent of waking hours are spent sitting, most of which occurs at work. Commonly, the remaining hours are spent driving and watching TV, in periods of inactivity.

"It's almost impossible to sit down for long periods when you know what's going on in your body while you're sitting," said Anne Friedlander, a consulting professor of human biology at Stanford and an organizer of the conference entitled The Science of Sedentary Behavior.

Inactivity due to sitting decreases circulation and the body starts shutting down on a metabolic level.

"What we know so far is sedentary behavior has a strong relationship with metabolic functions," said Neville Owen, a visiting professor from The University of Queensland in Australia who has done research on sitting. "Even if people go out for a walk or a jog, that would only be half an hour. That's only a tiny part of the day. Sitting does its nasty work."

Preliminary studies on sedentary behavior focused no weight gain or loss. The researchers at the conference hoped to approach the subject more broadly in studying the effects of prolonged sitting.

"We know there are links between too much sitting and risks to health," said David Dunstan, a visiting professor from The University of Queensland in Australia who has done research on sitting. "But we have yet to figure out the exact causes and to what effect."

There is no study yet that found exactly how much sitting is too much.

Marc Hamilton, a professor of inactivity physiology at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, in Baton Rouge, La., said that the science needs to get to the point where policymakers can issue guidelines that will help people make healthful choices.

Scientists say interrupting periods of prolonged sitting with frequent breaks is beneficial. Being conscious and aware of the sedentary behavior and doing something about it should be sufficient.

"A good thing is to see if you can avoid too much time in your car. If you can, use public transportation or ride a bicycle," said Owen. "At work, get out of the habit of everything being focused on the computer screen. Go find ways to put a bit more social interaction back into what you do at work."