Quick Study

Quick Study: Sedentary lifestyle is linked to shorter life span

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Too much sitting may hasten death

THE QUESTION People who are physically active tend to live longer. Might being inactive, specifically spending a lot of time simply sitting, have the opposite effect?

THIS STUDY analyzed data on 123,216 adults, who averaged in their early 60s and were disease-free at the start of the study. In a 14-year span, 19,230 of them died. The more of their leisure time they spent sitting -- doing such things as watching television, reading and driving -- the more likely people were to have died, especially from cardiovascular disease, even if they also exercised. Women who sat six or more hours a day were 37 percent more likely to have died than were women who spent fewer than three hours a day sitting. Men's risk was 18 percent higher. Women who sat the longest and exercised the least increased their chances of dying by 94 percent compared with those who sat the least and were the most active. Risk was 48 percent higher for men.

WHO MAY BE AFFECTED? People who are inactive. Research has shown that inactivity is a prime contributor to excessive weight gain, which can lead to cardiovascular disease and diabetes and increase the risk for premature death.

CAVEATS Information on the participants' activity levels was based on their answers to questionnaires. Data and analysis did not include whether people sat or were physically active at work, although most people in the study were retired. The study showed an association but not an absolute cause-and-effect between sitting and death.

FIND THIS STUDY July 22 online issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

LEARN MORE ABOUT the health benefits of physical activity at http://www.cdc.gov (click "P" in A-Z Index) and http://www.mayoclinic.com (search for "7 benefits").

-- Linda Searing

The research described in Quick Study comes from credible, peer-reviewed journals. Nonetheless, conclusive evidence about a treatment's effectiveness is rarely found in a single study. Anyone considering changing or beginning treatment of any kind should consult with a physician.

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