Sitting for long periods doubles risk of death

Updated: Oct 15, 2012, 14:42 PM IST

Washington: Those who sit for long periods have a two-fold increase in their risk of diabetes, heart disease and death, according to a study.

Importantly, associations were independent of the amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity undertaken, suggesting that even if an individual meets typical physical activity guidelines, their health may still be compromised if they sit for long periods of time throughout the day.

Dr. Emma Wilmot, a research fellow in the Diabetes Research Group at the University of Leicester, led the study, which combined the results of 18 studies and included a total of 794,577 participants.

It was done in collaboration with colleagues from the newly established National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit.

“The average adult spends 50-70 percent of their time sitting so the findings of this study have far reaching implications. By simply limiting the time that we spend sitting, we may be able to reduce our risk of diabetes, heart disease and death,” said Dr Wilmot, a Clinical Research Fellow in Diabetes and Endocrinology based at the Leicester Diabetes Centre, Leicester General Hospital.

“Our study also showed that the most consistent associations were between sitting and diabetes. This is an important message because people with risk factors for diabetes, such as the obese, those of South Asian ethnic origin, or those with a family history of diabetes, may be able to help reduce their future risk of diabetes by limiting the time spent sitting,” she noted.

Professor Stuart Biddle, of Loughborough University, and a co-investigator on the study, said: “There are many ways we can reduce our sitting time, such as breaking up long periods at the computer at work by placing our laptop on a filing cabinet. We can have standing meetings, we can walk during the lunch break, and we can look to reduce TV viewing in the evenings by seeking out less sedentary behaviours.”

The results were published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association of the Study of Diabetes.