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July 22nd, 2010
04:38 PM ET

Sitting, even after workout, can cut lifespan


A new study debunks the theory that an hour of exercise a day is all you need to live a long life. Turns out, people who spend more time sitting during their leisure time have an increased risk of death, regardless of daily exercise.

American Cancer Society researchers tracked the activity levels and death rates in more than 123,000 healthy men and women for 13 years. They found women who spend over six hours a day sitting during leisure time (watching TV, playing games, surfing the web, reading) were 40 percent more likely to die sooner than women who spend less than three hours sitting. Men who spend more time sitting have a 20 percent increased risk of death. Essentially, those who sit less, live a longer life than those who don't.

Several factors come into play when figuring out “why” sitting may take years off your life.

The first may seem like common sense. The more time you spend sitting, the more likely you are to passively eat snacks or consume high calories drinks resulting in unhealthy weight gain. But this isn’t always the case. Sedentary obese and normal weight Americans had similar increased risk of death in the study.

Prolonged time sitting suppresses your immune system, which may increase the risk of cancer and other diseases. And your blood isn’t circulating as it should when you’re sedentary for long periods of time. When blood doesn’t flow thru your veins up to your heart, it could lead to dangerous blood clot. It also has metabolic consequences – increasing your resting blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Researchers say the metabolic effect may explain why the association was strongest for cardiovascular disease mortality in the study.

The study, published in the American Journal of Epidemology suggests, “public health guidelines should be refined to include reducing time spent sitting in addition to promoting physical activity.”

So as you keep your brain stimulated with your smart phones, video games and gadgets, wireless apps and paperless books – walk around or stand up while playing your favorite game. You may add years to your life.


soundoff (340 Responses)
  1. Quattrocchi@yahoo.com

    Oxnard Carpet Cleaning

    February 11, 2011 at 23:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Kids Science Experiments

    Hello mate,
    This was a great post for such a difficult topic to talk about.

    I look forward to reading many more excellent posts like this one.

    Thanks

    July 10, 2011 at 19:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. CJD

    The only problem is that studies have also shown that standing or being on your feet for long periods of time is not good for people either. You can't win for losing here.

    July 12, 2011 at 11:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. mrj

    Can you please list citations for the studies you referenced in this post? Thanks.

    December 24, 2012 at 17:44 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.