Idling Toward Death: Sitting Linked to Dying Early
The link is independent of exercise, obesity and other factors. So what gives?
Among more than 120,000 adults, those who sat more than six hours a day in their leisure time were significantly more likely to die in a 14-year period than those who sat less than three hours, according to Alpa Patel of the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues.
The association was stronger in women than in men, the researchers reported online in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
The findings were independent of physical activity levels, body mass index, smoking and several other factors contributing to mortality risk.
According to the researchers, sedentary time may be related to mortality risk because sitting may be associated with other unhealthy behaviors, like excessive eating. In addition, sitting too much could have adverse metabolic effects.
"Public health messages and guidelines should be refined to include reducing time spent sitting in addition to promoting physical activity," Patel and colleagues wrote.
Numerous studies have identified a relationship between high levels of physical activity and reduced risks of death and a multitude of health problems. Few studies, however, have examined the association between time spent sitting and mortality.
Patel and her colleagues evaluated data from the ACS's Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort, a large, prospective study of cancer incidence and mortality.
At baseline, the participants completed a questionnaire detailing -- among other things -- the amount of time they spent sitting and exercising in their leisure time.
The current analysis included 53,440 men and 69,776 women who were healthy at the beginning of the study.
During the 14-year follow-up, there were 11,307 deaths in men and 7,923 in women.
Even though the link between sitting and risk of death was greatest for those participants who sat at least six hours a day, there was a significant association among both men and women who sat three to five hours as well.