Is Sitting Linked To Early Death?

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Sitting Linked to Death
Study in 2014: Sitting Linked to Early Death

Earlier this year, an article published in the Annuals of Internal Medicine shocked the world by revealing that sitting too much is linked to heart disease, and a risk of early death,  independent of whether you exercise. The paper examined 47 studies, and concluded that people who had a sedentary lifestyle had an increased risk of heart disease, cancer, and basically – dying from all causes. People who exercised less were affected the most, but even people who exercised regularly were not spared the hazardous effects (i.e dying) from sitting too long!

New Study Says: Sitting NOT Associated with Early Death

Yet, a newly publish study says otherwise: it followed 5000 men and women over a 16 year period, and found that sitting time was NOT associated with an increased risk of early death. Authors of the study say that previous studies did not correctly measure and record sitting time,  while this new study included all areas of sitting – sitting at work, sitting while watching TV, during leisure time excluding TV viewing, as well as a measure of all types of sitting combined.  Authors also noted that this could be due to a protective effect of higher than average daily activity in this cohort.

To Sit or Not to Sit?

In this day and age, it is difficult to avoid spending a significant amounts of sitting down. The studies can be confusing to decipher- but the fact is that a sedentary lifestyle has been shown to be linked to cardiovascular disease and mortality in many studies. However, it has also always been agreed that exercise is a redeeming factor. Hence, while we cannot avoid prolonged sitting, there are many ways we can mitigate its harmful effects, and these include:

  • Exercising: at least 3 times a week, 20 minutes per session
  • NOT smoking
  • Reduce alcohol intake
  • Making an effort to take short breaks to stand and stretch in between prolonged periods of sitting
  • Getting your heart health checked if you have close relatives (parents, siblings, 1st cousins) who have a heart attack/ stroke before the age 55yrs old (men) or 65 yrs old (women)

 

References: 

Sedentary Time and Its Association With Risk for Disease Incidence, Mortality, and Hospitalization in AdultsA Systematic Review and Meta-analysis (http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2091327)

Associations of sitting behaviours with all-cause mortality over a 16-year follow-up: the Whitehall II study (http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2015/10/09/ije.dyv191.full)

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