0820 GMT January 21, 2020
Combing through 47 prior studies, Canadian researchers found that prolonged daily sitting was linked to significantly higher odds of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and dying, HealthDay said.
And even if study participants exercised regularly, the accumulated evidence still showed worse health outcomes for those who sat for long periods, the researchers said. However, those who did little or no exercise faced even higher health risks.
"We found the association relatively consistent across all diseases. A pretty strong case can be made that sedentary behavior and sitting is probably linked with these diseases," said study author Aviroop Biswas, a Ph.D. candidate at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-University Health Network.
"When we're standing, certain muscles in our body are working very hard to keep us upright," added Biswas, offering one theory about why sitting is detrimental. "Once we sit for a long time, our metabolism is not as functional, and the inactivity is associated with a lot of negative effects."
About 3.2 million people die each year because they are not active enough, according to the World Health Organization, making physical inactivity the fourth leading risk factor for mortality worldwide.
Among the studies reviewed by Biswas and his team, the definition of prolonged sitting ranged from eight hours a day to 12 hours or more. Sitting, or sedentary activities ubiquitous with sitting such as driving, using the computer or watching TV, shouldn't comprise more than four to five hours of a person's day, Biswas said, citing guidelines issued by Public Health Agency of Canada.