Bad news for couch potatoes and those of us chained to our office cubicles. We’ve been hearing for a while now that sitting is the new health villain to worry about, but lately the studies are really piling up. Worse, exercise seems to have little mitigating effect—even if you put in some solid gym time, it may not make up for being sedentary the rest of the day.
In fact, even people who meet the government recommendations for exercise (at least 150 minutes a week) are mostly sedentary, Northwestern University researchers recently found. In a study of 91 such women who wore activity monitors, the participants still spent 63 percent of their waking hours seated. They actually spent a greater portion of their day sitting than sleeping!
These recent studies (all published within the last six months) reveal how insidious sitting is for your body. Spending the day glued to your chair raises your risk of:
Diabetes: Avoiding couches and chairs may be an even more effective diabetes prevention strategy than exercising, according to a new British study in the journal Diabetologia. The researchers found that time spent sitting was associated with higher blood sugar and cholesterol, even after they accounted for such factors as time spent exercising and body fat, according to HealthDay.
Chronic disease: A recent large Australian observational study of more than 63,000 men between age 45 to 65 found that those who sat for four hours or less each day were much less likely to have chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. Another British study last year that pooled data on nearly 800,000 people found that those who sit for long stretches had double the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and death.
Lower odds of cancer survival: Colon cancer patients who sat for six or more hours a day had a 36 percent higher chance of dying from the disease than those who sat less than three hours a day, according to a recent American Cancer Society study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The reason isn’t well understood, but may have to do with sitting leading to worse glucose and insulin control, which may fuel tumor growth.
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